The Lincoln Bill of Rights Defense Coalition is a non-partisan, all-volunteer, ad hoc group of Lincoln citizens whose goal is to educate the community about the erosion of civil liberties that are contained in the USA PATRIOT Act and to urge passage of the Defense of Liberty resolution. With this resolution Lincoln will join over 340 other U.S. communities calling for changes to those parts of the Act that undermine a free and open society. More than 2500 members of the Lincoln community have signed the Lincoln Bill of Rights Defense Coalitions petition supporting this effort. Since its formation last August, the Lincoln BORDC has spoken about the Patriot Act to over 60 community organizations including neighborhood groups, schools, civic clubs and religious forums.
The Lincoln City Council will hold a public hearing and vote on the resolution at its 1:30 p.m. meeting on September 13.
On July 22nd we held a rally at the Malone Center. You can view an hour-long program based on the speeches given at the rally by going to: www.sjtv.info . A DVD or videotape of the program is also available for local cable programs (it’s been showing on Lincoln’s channel 13 program Social Justice TV) or home viewing.
The rally reflected the opposition among broad sections of our community to the erosion of civil liberties with the adoption of the Patriot Act and other government actions since September 11, 2001. Speakers included:
Leroy Stokes – The president of the Lincoln NAACP opened the evening with a welcome to the Malone Center and an overview of his organization’s concerns with the Patriot Act.
Martha Hunter – As president of the League of Women Voters of Lincoln-Lancaster County, Martha expressed the conviction of her organization that the need to protect against security threats to America must be balanced with the need to preserve the very liberties that are the foundation of this country.
Jassim Al-Idani You might have read recently in the news about how this Lincoln resident from Iraq was a victim of racial profiling, like many immigrants in our country from the Middle East. He told the story of how on a family visit to the Omaha zoo he was held unjustly by the police for two hours.
Lela Shanks This respected community leader described the harassment her family faced at the hands of the FBI for their leadership in the Civil Rights Movement. We were moved to give her a standing ovation.
Marty Ramirez Marty is a community activist who received the Purple Heart while serving in Vietnam. He focused on the impact on Latino immigrants.
Laurie Lee This UNL professor offered a perspective as an authority on the Patriot Act and a leader of the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska.
Brian Terrell Brians from the Catholic Peace Ministry in Des Moines. He described how earlier this year he, along with three other Iowa peace activists, were served subpoenas by a federal grand jury looking into the legal, peaceful activities of a local antiwar group. He inspired us with the power of our organized strength by describing how the public outcry to this intimidation forced the feds to withdraw the subpoenas.
Brenda Ealey Speaking for the Southeast Library System Board of Directors, she voiced the passionate opposition among librarians to the impact the Patriot Act has on the free exchange of ideas thats so essential to a democracy.
Kenneth Bordeaux – As a Native spiritual counselor Kenneth shared the familiarity his people have had dealing with terrorism – at the hands of the U.S. government.
Lee Witters This VFW member presented his opposition as a World War II veteran to the Patriot Act.
Raneta Lawson Mack The co-author of Equal Justice in the Balance is especially concerned about the impact the conduct of the war on terrorism has had on our right to fair and equal treatment and to due process.
For more information on this effort or a copy of the Defense of Liberty resolution, contact Mark Weddleton at mark (at) weddleton.com or (402) 499-6672.
Below is a list of the places where the Lincoln Bill of Rights Defense Coalition has, working with others, brought our educational campaign on the dangers of the Patriot Act*.
Nebraska International Multicultural Exchange Conference
Hispanic Leadership Conference
Hartley Neighborhood Association
Everett Neighborhood Association
Malone Neighborhood Association
North Bottoms Neighborhood Association
Highlands Neighborhood Association
University Place Neighborhood Association
First Presbyterian Church
Eastridge Presbyterian Church
Lincoln Interfaith Council Urban Ministries committee
Lincoln Educational Association
Central Labor Union
Lincoln Chapter of the Immigrant Rights Network
Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska
Nebraska Library Association annual convention
Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Coffeehouse
Green Party State Convention
Nebraskans for Peace State Convention
ACLU Nebraska Annual Dinner
Omaha Peace and Justice Expo
Veterans of Foreign Wars
East Lincoln Rotary
Lincoln Independent Business Association Governmental Affairs Committee
League of Women Voters
Board of Directors of the Lincoln Public Libraries
United Nations Association of Lincoln
Waging Peace conference
Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination
Cornhusker Kiwanis Club
No Limits: Imagining Change – Women as Agents for Social Justice conference at UNL
Lincoln Area Retired Teachers Association
Lincoln High Social Justice Club
Five classes at Lincoln High
Lincoln Southeast Students for Peace
SECC Multi Ethnic Students Organization
Classes at SECC
Two public forums at the City Campus Union as part of UNL students Civil Liberties Awareness Week in November
ASUN at UNL (which passed a similar resolution in January)
Creighton University panel on civil liberties
Debates with U.S. Attorney Michael Heavican:
Omaha Press Club
Trinity Methodist Church
Southeast High student assembly
Tifereth Israel Synagogue
Downtown Rotary Club
Special events organized:
Crescent Moon Coffeehouse Poetry Reading Against the Patriot Act
Rock Against the Patriot Act fundraiser at Knickerbockers
Fremont Public Library public meeting
Gere Public Library public meeting
Eisley Public Library public meeting
Anderson Public Library public meeting
Bennet Martin Public Library public meeting
Walt Public Library public meeting
July 22 book signing at Nebraska Bookstore for the authors of “Equal Justice in the Balance”
July 22nd public rally against the Patriot Act at the Malone Center
Other places we petitioned:
Lincoln National Coming Out Day at Cooper Park
Hispanic Cultural Celebration
Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty October conference
EN Thompson forum by Omar al-Issawi
EN Thompson forum by Amos Oz
EN Thompson forum by Mary Thompson
Joan Baez concert at the Lied
Bus to April March for Womens Lives rally in Washington, D.C.
Haymarket Farmers Market
Jazz in June
March 20th Coalition for Peace antiwar protest
Stand Up for Community: Rally Against Racism
Star City Parade
Talk by Lela Shanks at Saint Paul Methodist on her experience with discrimination
Showing of documentary Uncovered at the Ross
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Rally
Rally in support of the DREAM Act
UNL Native American cultural celebration
Speech by Nadine Strossen, National ACLU president, at Nebraska Wesleyan
Speech by historian Howard Zinn at Nebraska Wesleyan
The Meeting performance at the Malone Center
Showings of “Fahrenheit 9/11″.
Juneteenth celebration in Trago Park.
*Listing does not signify the group has taken a stand on the “Defense of Liberty Resolution”.