Here’s the message and draft resolution from incumbent Asheville City Council member Cecil Bothwell via his campaign’s email newsletter:
When I ran for office in 2009, I promised to do all I could to protect the civil liberties of Asheville’s citizens.
Far too often I had heard allegations of differential enforcement by our police. Whether true or not, if people believe that they are being treated unfairly due to their political views, their religious beliefs, their skin color, their gender orientation or their ethnicity, it is bad for our community.
Those who distrust the police are unlikely to report crimes. Those who fear the police are less likely to call for help when they most need it.
Starting in 2010 I convened meetings with an interdenominational group of religious leaders, with social activist organizations, with the Coalición de Organizaciones Latino-Americanas, with representatives of the Asheville Police Department and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department, to fashion a Civil Liberties Resolution. I sought input from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Asheville Buncombe Community Relations Council, participants in the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, the YWCA and local attorneys.
It has taken a surprisingly long time to write, edit and gather support for a document that basically makes it clear that Asheville unequivocally endorses the Bill of Rights.
But it will finally be up for approval from the Public Safety Committee, which I chair, on June 24. From there it will go to the full Council.
To read the Civil Liberties Resolution, click here and scroll down.
Thanks for your support,
CITY OF ASHEVILLE
CIVIL LIBERTIES RESOLUTION
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville has long aspired to protect civil liberties and provide equal protection under the law to all persons inthecity which includes a diverse population of many races, religions, national and ethnic origin, including immigrants, tourists and students—whose contributions to the community’s economy, culture and civic character are vast and important, and affirms its strong support for the fundamental constitutional rights of every person and recognizes that the preservation of civil liberties is essential to the well-being of a democratic society; and
WHEREAS: The Chief of Police of the City of Asheville has implemented new community policing practices that seek to reframe and improve the relationship between law enforcement officers and the public; and
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville opposes measures that single out individuals within our diverse population for legal scrutiny or enforcement activity based on race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, religious or political opinion or activity, immigration status; or homed or homeless status, and
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville opposes any efforts to transfer federal immigration responsibility to state and local officials, since these proposals tax our already overburdened police department and damage relationships with immigrant communities; and
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville believes that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty but that Americans can be both safe and free; and
WHEREAS: The City of Asheville wishes to play a leading role in the protection of civil liberties and to consistently promote tolerance and respect for all persons, and recognizes that a number of other jurisdictions in North Carolina and in the United States have enacted policies or laws to make clear their protection of the civil liberties of a diverse population.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY OF ASHEVILLE that:
Section 1. The City of Asheville upholds the constitutional rights and civil liberties of any and all persons and it remains the policy of the City of Asheville to protect against discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, mental or physical disability, immigration status, religious or political opinion or activity, or homed or homeless status.
Section 2. City of Asheville officers and employees reject profiling of any group within our diverse population as a factor in selecting individuals, setting up check points or selecting areas of town to subject to investigatory activities.
Section 3. City of Asheville officers shall not arrest persons or impound vehicles solely for failure to produce a driver’s license in the course of motor vehicle stops in which the initiating infraction would not otherwise result in arrest, unless there is other evidence of criminal activity.
Section 4. The City of Asheville does not and will not maintain electronic, photographic or paper files on any person not under investigation for criminal activity.
Section 5. City of Asheville officers and employees do not and shall not collect, maintain or disseminate information about the political, religious or social views, associations or activities of any individual, association, organization, corporation, business or partnership unless said information is directly related to an investigation of criminal conduct that is based on reasonable suspicion.
Section 6. In the absence of interstate or international criminal or national security investigations, City of Asheville officers and employees shall refrain from participating in the enforcement of federal immigration laws or initiatives such as the Terrorism Information and Prevention System (TIPS), that encourage members of the general public to spy on their neighbors, colleagues and customers, or programs run by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that drive a wedge between the immigrant community and the local police who need to protect the welfare of all our residents; no department, agency, commission, officer or employee of the City of Asheville shall use City funds or resources to assist in the enforcement of Federal Immigration Law, or to gather, use or disseminate the immigration status information of individuals in the City of Asheville.
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the provisions of this Resolution are not intended to protect criminal activity on the part of any person but are intended to encourage trust in the Asheville Police Department and to encourage reporting of criminal activity to that department by all members of the community.
BE IT ALSO RESOLVED that the provisions of this Resolution shall be severable, and if any provision of this Resolution is declared unconstitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction, the validity of the remainder shall not be affected.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Resolution shall be forwarded to all City of Asheville law enforcement agencies and to every department, agency, commission, officer and employee of the City and to our local, state and federal legislative delegations on behalf of the residents of the City of Asheville.