Voters of Aquinnah Consider Patriot Act

Voters in Aquinnah will decide this week whether to join other towns across the country in opposing the Patriot Act, federal legislation adopted six weeks after Sept. 11 in the name of anti-terrorism.

A resolution and a town bylaw opposing the Patriot Act both appear on the warrant for a special town meeting. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 10, in the Aquinnah town hall.

Aquinnah is the first of the six Vineyard towns to take up the resolution opposing the Patriot Act. A local group called Islanders for Civil Liberties has led a campaign to place the resolution in front of voters in all six town this year. In fact the movement began in Aquinnah; town residents Jean Entine and Mary Elizabeth Pratt are co-founders of the group. Other Aquinnah residents spoke out on the subject this week.

"The Patriot Act is upsetting to me because provisions in it conflict with the Bill of Rights, which is the cornerstone of our freedom as U.S. citizens," wrote Berta Welch in a letter to the editor that appears in today's Gazette.

"The Patriot Act severely limits rights we have come to regard as sacred," wrote Camille Rose in another letter.

The resolution declares a formal objection to the act in the name of civil liberties; the bylaw creates a local procedure for dealing with anti-terrorism measures.

There are four articles on the warrant; the other two are housekeeping money requests.