Denver nixes Patriot Act powers

Denver nixes Patriot Act powers

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

Denver, Colo. has joined Portland, Ore. and a handful of other cities in acting to discourage police enforcement of provisions of the so-called USA Patriot Act.

The Denver City Council adopted a non-binding resolution which bars police there from investigating groups or individuals based on their country of origin or their immigration status.

Councilwoman Kathleen MacKenzie, a co-sponsor of the resolution, told the Associated Press: “In this city, it’s not a crime to have dark skin. It’s not a crime to express unpopular views.”

Denver officials acted a week after revelations that police in that city had been keeping secret files on protest groups such as Amnesty International, the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, and anti-globalization protesters.

The revelations came from the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the police had 3,200 files on individuals and 208 files on groups, dating back to 1999. The mayor reprimanded police officials, saying they had too broadly interpreted city policy.

Marking some residents for surveillance and ignoring others because of their race or national origin was not acceptable to all council members. The resolution passed 7-4. Opponents claimed it would unnecessarily restrict police and that the expanded powers are needed for public safety.

Several other cities have questioned the Patriot Act’s broadened powers of surveillance and investigation to combat domestic and foreign terrorism. In Portland, officials refused to cooperate with federal investigators in interviewing residents about the terrorist attacks.

The resolution was proposed by the All Nations Alliance, a group that garnered attention when it objected to Denver’s Columbus Day parade, claiming it was a celebration of genocide against Native Americans.

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