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Local High School Students Protest Patriot Act

There was a notable protest at the library in Santa Cruz.

Group demonstrates at library
By ROBYN MOORMEISTER
Sentinel staff writer

UC Santa Cruz seniors Lisa Banks, Carolyn Riggs, Adam Spittler and Michelle Lee were alarmed to hear that the federal government may have been tracking the students’ every move when they recently checked out library books on German terrorist Ulrike Meinhof for a school project.

Before a librarian alerted them, they didn’t know that the USA Patriot Act, passed in October 2001 "to deter and punish terrorist acts," allows the government to search public library records to monitor book checkouts and Internet use without a traditional grand jury subpoena.

"We got really angry when we found out," Riggs said. "It’s a form of censorship. The government is directing our path of education by reading over our shoulders."

The student formed a group opposing the Patriot Act "Bibliothek Liberation Front," and Saturday afternoon, they gathered at the main branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library on Church Street to voice their frustrations.

Santa Cruz Libraries Chief Anne Turner was on hand to make sure library patrons weren’t disturbed by Saturday’s gathering, but also to support the students’ cause.

"I think it’s wonderful they’re here," Turner said.

Turner has posted warnings at all of the library branches, notifying patrons that she cannot protect them from the government’s ability to access their records.

A film crew from PBS show "News Hour with Jim Lehrer" was at the library Saturday to film a handful of students thumbing through potentially "flagged" books for an upcoming episode that will focus on the Patriot Act.

The students, who emphasized they are pacifists, said they just wanted their voices to be heard.

"The legislation compromises our access to education — one of our civil liberties," Riggs said. "It’s oppressive."

Contact Robyn Moormeister at rmoormeister@santa-cruz.com

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