To The Daily Sun,
What are Community Rights? Are they something we ever had, or something new? These are questions I have been asked about a few times since leading the charge to pass a Community Bill of Rights Ordinance in the town of Alexandria to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents, and ecosystems against governments and industrial corporate activities that would seek to violate those rights proclaimed within the ordinance.
Community Rights are the inalienable, fundamental, and political rights we all embrace as individuals being exercised collectively by a community to protect the health, safety and welfare of natural persons and ecosystems within the community. Rights to such things as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that all government of right originates from the people, is founded in consent, and instituted for the general good; to reform government when it does not represent the people it serves; to hold elected officials accountable to the people who elect them; to have legal governing authority over our local affairs free from state preemption; to be free from the oppressions of corporate influence in politics and lawmaking; to protect the ecosystems we depend upon for survival, etc.
Community Rights are nothing new. "The real revolution, the transfer of political authority to the American patriots, occurred the previous summer when thousands upon thousands of farmers and artisans seized power from every crown-appointed official in Massachusetts outside of Boston. Starting in August 1774, each time a court was slated to meet under British authority in some Massachusetts town, great numbers of angry citizens made sure it did not. At Great Barrington, 1,500 patriots filled the courthouse to prevent the judges from entering. At Worcester, judges were made to read their recantations 30 times over, hats in hand, as they passed through 4,622 militiamen lined up along Main Street. So, too, at Springfield, where, "in a sandy, sultry place, exposed to the sun," once-important officials sweated under the burden of their heavy black suits. The functionaries of British rule cowered and collapsed, no match for the collective force of patriotic farmers." "The governor's councilors, once elected but now appointed directly by the Crown, were also forced to resign." (Introduction in "The first American Revolution: Before Lexington and Concord" by Ray Raphael, 2002)
The common people of the colonies of New England did not ask permission to act on their right to decide what happened in the places they lived. They collectively acted in an organized, truly democratic, bold, forceful yet nonviolent manner to the British Crown's attempt to strip them of their Community Rights. There are historical accounts of communities throughout the colonies exercising their right to local self-government prior to our Declaration of Independence, state constitutional bill of rights, and the United States Constitution.
NHCRN Board of Directors
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