Don’t reign on our parade

Mark Drolette is a longtime Sacramento resident and state worker

Kudos to the Sacramento City Council for passing the recent anti-Patriot Act resolution, and double kudos to the Sacramento Coalition to Stop the Patriot Act. It was through the extended efforts of this loose-knit and patriotic band of determined citizens that the push was made and that victory, via an 8-1 council vote, was achieved.

Though the resolution is largely symbolic, it is still important for Sacramento to join the more than 200 American communities to inform the “leaders” in Washington that citizens everywhere are aware of their attempts to curtail our civil liberties. True patriots are those who pay attention when assaults, such as the Patriot Act, are made on the Constitution and who then take action to protect this most sacred of American institutions.

But there’s more work ahead.

I speak of the “parade ordinances” passed by the council in June, right before the agricultural ministerial conference came to town. These regulations are also assaults on the Constitution: specifically, on First Amendment rights to peaceably assemble and freely speak.

People were arrested during the conference, under provisions of the hastily passed ordinances, for wearing bandannas. The ordinances also make it unlawful to wear a gas mask or to hold a sign attached to a stick deemed too large. Besides their questionable constitutionality, regulations like these lend themselves to selective enforcement. It may be much more tempting for someone—say, a cop—to bust a young, tie-dyed longhair wearing a bandanna and protesting at an agricultural conference than to handcuff a yuppie at a pro-recall rally, bearing a “We Support Arnold” sign on a stick that’s a little too thick.

What happened during the conference, under the guise of keeping the peace and under cover of the ordinance, was, pure and simple, state-sponsored intimidation—an atmosphere intended to stifle unpopular dissent.

When the city manager’s office presented the final report on the conference at a September council meeting, many citizens who’d attended the protests spoke of the intimidation they’d experienced and called for the regulations’ repeal. A “review” was promised. Pressure should be applied to the council now to abolish these truly un-American ordinances.

Please contact the mayor and your councilmember to urge repeal of the ordinances. The resolution to condemn the Patriot Act is very welcome but also is largely ceremonial. Rescission of the ordinances would show that the council is willing to back its words with true patriotic action.