Savannah Joins 386 US Cities in Taking Aim at the USA PATRIOT Act

PRESS CONFERENCE
Contact: Alan Chung (912 341 0307)

June 25, 2004
10 am
Franklin Square (RED SQUARE)
Congress@Montgomery Sts.
Savannah, Ga

After an 18-month struggle to get Savannah’s city council to take a stand against the PATRIOT Act, the body finally bowed to a broad local consensus in opposition to the Bush regime’s 2001 version of Hitler’s 1933 Enabling Act. In an unanimous decision, the Savannah city council, led by activist Mayor Otis Johnson, voted to adopt a resolution on Thursday affirming the city’s commitment to the Bill of Rights and calling into question the theory and application of the broad police law.

“We are thrilled,” declared Kellie Gasink, national coordinator of the Savannah-based National Coalition to Repeal of the Patriot Act. “This is a victory for the people of Savannah and for our civil liberties. Now, cities across the south will join the rest of the nation in rebuking Bush’s assault on our constitutional rights.”

Thursday’s city council hearing was not without fireworks. City Alderman-at-large Jeff Feltzer attempted to re-write history by ludicrously claiming that the authorship of the resolution belonged to himself and the city council. Likewise, 3rd District Alderman Ellis Cook recited a hysterically racist diatribe against Arab people and Muslims in support of the Patriot Act. On top of that, the city council was literally faced down by an U.S. Assistant District Attorney and operative of US Attorney General Ashcroft, who insisted that there was nothing to fear from the law that gives the executive branch sweeping powers to imprison and even execute U.S. citizens without due process or trial.

William Pleasant, co-founder of the Labor and Action Research Project, dismissed Feltzer. “Apparently, Jeff Feltzer has enrolled in the Stalin School of Falsification,” he snickered. “Neither Jeff Feltzer nor the city council, with the exception of 5th District Alderman Clifton Jones–the first supporter of the anti-repression resolution in 2003–would have ever made a peep about the Patriot Act on their own. The National Coalition to Repeal the Patriot Act, the Green Party of Chatham County, with the labor-led Savannah A. Philip Randolph Institute and the Savannah Peace Coalition started it all and persisted to the final result, pure and simple. That is the city council’s own official record.

“Jeff Feltzer, in particular, has historically proven that he lacks the guts to do anything other than engage in personal attacks on myself and other activists, and carry the water for his sugar daddies in the Downtown Neighborhood Association. Feltzer behaves like a frustrated infant. Today’s city council meeting was no exception.”

Pleasant continued, “Today, city council had to respond to a grassroots movement in Savannah on behalf of the U.S. Constitution. A year and a half ago, almost everybody said there was no way that the city government would ever take a stand against Bush and his banditos. They said: ‘Never in Savannah!’

“They laughed at us. Well, look who has the last laugh.”

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