Political Activist Strives to Change Local Law

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In light of his most recent book, “The People’s Advocate,” Daniel Sheehan led a book signing and conversation about today’s political climate and its implications.

The event was held at Logos Bookstore on Sept. 25 and was intended as a platform for further discussion and social activism. More specifically, Sheehan spoke about a current resolution to make Santa Cruz a constitutional rights protection zone, which would effectively make local government accountable for ensuring that people’s constitutional rights are assured. Usually this responsibility lies solely with the federal government.

Daniel Sheehan, a public-interest lawyer who has worked on many historical cases, intends for his newest book to be a guide for future political awareness and action.

“All of history is just a prologue of what we do now,” Sheehan said. “We need to get the idealist generation and the civic generation to build an alliance to bring about justice.”

The conversation about “The People’s Advocate” — a personal account of Sheehan’s journey through some of history’s most pivotal moments — opened up a larger discussion about recent political measures involving greater government oversight and surveillance.

Topics ranged from unnecessary searches and seizures to the consequences of the recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a statute signed into law at the end of 2011 by President Obama which arguably permits the revocations of constitutional rights.

“The point of the book is to disillusion people and stop them from becoming acclimated to surveillance,” Sheehan said.

Photo by Daniela Ruiz.
Photo by Daniela Ruiz.

More specifically, Sheehan and others are now planning to ask city council to adopt a resolution making Santa Cruz a constitutional rights protection zone. In the past, Sheehan has been a mobilizer in Santa Cruz’s effort to become a “nuclear-free zone” and suggests similar plans of action for becoming a constitutional rights protection zone.

“When we wanted to become nuclear-free, we first went to local city council and the county board of supervisors,” Sheehan said. “We then pushed to draft the petition elsewhere, in which it became a major mechanism for organizing people and raising their consciousness.”

Rico Baker is among the many attendees of the conversation who seek to utilize the book as a platform for action. They are the drafters of a petition that would ask city council to make Santa Cruz a constitutional rights protection zone.

“Do not count on change coming from the federal government,” Baker said. “It has to come from the ground up. We need to remind city council and local officials that the oath they took to protect the U.S. Constitution was not an empty gesture.”