by Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Today is the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, adopted 221 years ago to protect freedom in America. The principles articulated in the first 10 amendments to our Constitution have long inspired the rest of the world.

While our Founders attempted to enshrine liberty principles as constitutional norms that would trump any law, however, our government has come to routinely violate freedoms of speech, assembly, and association, while also pervasively committingunreasonable searches and seizures, violations of due process, and cruel punishment, all while unapologetically discriminating according to race, ethnicity, and faith

Spanning presidential administrations from each of the major political parties, ongoing abuses such as dragnet surveillance, the undercover infiltration of First Amendment protected groups,paramilitary policing and suppression of dissentracial profiling in the war on drugs, religious profiling in the war on terror, national origin profiling in the war on immigrants, extrajudicial assassination without trial, indefinite military detentionwithout trial, and the disturbing government secrecy that enables each of these violations reveal a whole far worse than the sum of its parts.

 Recognizing the need to defend the Bill of Rights in the face of a continuing government onslaught, committed grassroots constitutionalists have raised their voices around the country this month:

  • Just two days ago, the stop LAPD Spying coalition organized a grassroots mobilization at the Norwalk fusion center in Southern California, one of over 70 fusion centers around the country recently criticized by the US Senate for coordinating intelligence information collected by local police in violation of constitutional norms and without any demonstrated security benefit.
  • A week ago today, on December 8, the Connecticut Coalition to End Indefinite Detention brought together over 200 supporters from across the Northeast, including students alongside retirees, Peace activists and labor organizers, African-Americans and white Americans, Muslims and Jews, all united by concerns about constitutional abuses examined in detail by renowned First Amendment lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who delivered a keynote address alongside law professor Sahar Aziz.
  • The same day, grassroots peace gathered at the CIA headquarters outside Washington, DC to protest the use of drone aircraft in assassinations without trial.
  • Earlier this week, on December 10, supporters gathered in Asheville, NC to watch a series of short documentaries and plan actions in the new year.
  • The next day, across the state in Chapel Hill staged a reading of a play dramatizing drone killings, organized by Elders for Peace.
  • On December 5, pressed by grassroots supporters from across the political spectrum, the Michigan State House voted unanimously to adopt a billrepudiating the domestic military detention provisions of the NDAA.
  • Today in Dallas, supporters will gather for a luncheon to celebrate the legacy of the Bill of Rights, and discuss plans to mobilize in the new year to protest the opening of the George W. Bush Center at Southern Methodist University
  • Next Thursday, grassroots activists will gather at the Boeing headquarters in Chicago to protest Boeing’s role in proliferating unmanned aerial aircraft for surveillance and bombings.

What will the resistance to the national security state look like in your town? The struggle will continue beyond Bill of Rights Day into the new year, so if you need help planning actions — or better yet, strategic campaigns connecting the dots between actions to build a local movement — contact us at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee for help.

The 10th Amendment

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