WASHINGTON – Groups representing Arab, Hispanic and black Americans will march on the Justice Department Sept. 13 to protest what they call an attack on civil liberties in the Bush administration's war against terrorism.
The "coalition of conscience" will protest the federal detention, without charges, of people suspected of being connected to terrorist cells. The process, said Jim Zogby of the Arab American Institute, is an assault on the constitutional right to due process and not about protecting the nation from future attacks.
"This is not about security, this is about immigrants," Zogby told reporters. People of ethnic backgrounds "are the weak link in the civil liberties chain. And if the chain breaks for us, it breaks for all Americans."
Organized by the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, the march will take place two days after the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Hispanic and black political groups will also be holding conferences in Washington that week.
Also participating are the National Organization for Women, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Asian Pacific Legal Consortium and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
More than 100 foreign nationals picked up after Sept. 11 were still in custody as of late May, down from about 700, the Justice Department has said. The government has provided no updated figure, nor information about the charges detainees face.
U.S. officials have said that national security could be compromised if the process were changed, names were released and evidence was revealed in court.