Ashcroft’s tour stop comes in the midst of rapidly growing public concern about provisions of the PATRIOT Act passed in 2001. Across the United States, more than 150 communities—including three states—have passed local government resolutions decrying the PATRIOT Act and calling on the localities to find a balance between safety and freedom.
Across Virginia, concerned citizens have also been taking action against the loss of civil liberties. In July 2003, Charlottesville became the first Virginia city to pass a resolution to protect civil liberties in the wake of the PATRIOT Act. Currently, Norfolk, Alexandria, Virginia Beach, Arlington and Richmond also have groups organizing, educating the public through forums and working on local city council resolutions.
“The Attorney General did not give us much notice of his visit hoping the people would not be able to mobilize,” said Tuni Singh, President of Citizen's First Advocacy Network, “but hopefully tomorrow, he will see how powerful the people truly are.”
According to Aimee Perron, ACLU of Virginia legislative director, “It is our hope that the Attorney General, the Bush Administration and the elected officials of Virginia will see from the protest tomorrow and the resolution movement across the state, that while we Virginians are concerned about protecting our state and our country from terrorism, we firmly believe that we do not have to sacrifice our civil liberties to be safe. Rather, our vision is that we can be both safe AND free.”
Contacts: Aimee Perron, Legislative Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022 Tuni Singh, President, Citizen's First Advocacy Network