“Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties,” a documentary by Nonny de la Peña, was screened by the Progressive Student Alliance (PSA) in the Science Complex in collaboration with Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). It was the third film in their Social Justice Film Series.
The documentary highlighted how American civil liberties have been abused since the attacks on Sept. 11 and the inception of the USA Patriot Act. The hour-long screening provided information on the United States government acting unconstitutionally toward restricting the civil liberties of American citizens and immigrants.
“I thought it did a fantastic job of exposing how the Patriot Act was put into place and the dangers that it poses to our freedoms and liberties,” Greg Marino, junior history major, said.
A purpose of this film was to put aside the “this doesn’t affect me, so why should I care” mentality. De la Peña specifically used examples of United States citizens being abducted and deported to foreign nations, which underlined the importance of protecting American civil liberties. He raised issues about the government withholding information from U.S. citizens, librarians being questioned by FBI personnel and actions taken against individuals based on stereotypes.
“We want to promote awareness about these issues,” Elaine Hood, PSA president, said. “The film provides a lot of possibilities for local action in our community. It offered real valuable suggestions.”
Questions were taken at the end of the documentary. A lot of students expressed dismay and an urge to make the public more aware of this issue.
“Things have gotten worse since the film was released (in 2004),” Marino said. “Things like the Military Commissions Act, which was approved last year, might even be more detrimental to our civil liberties than the Patriot Act.”
The Social Justice Film Series will include six more films. The theme of each film changes from week to week.
Every film is shown in Science Complex room P101 on Monday and Thursday nights at 7 or 8:30 p.m. For a complete schedule of screenings students can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
As well as attempting to make college students more aware of these social issues, PSA will also hold a “Speak Out Against the Iraq War” demonstration on the Travers/Wolfe lawn on Oct. 17.
“This will be a jumping-off point in meaningful social action,” Hood said. “It will help promote the Oct. 27 national anti-war protest.”
PSA will be handing out green flyers promoting the event. They also plan to provide bus transportation to the Oct. 27 anti-war protest in New York City.