REEDSPORT — The Reedsport City Council voted 4-3 against a request to add an agenda item at a future meeting about rejecting the National Defense Authorization Act, a request made by a Coquille man.
Tom McKirgan, the southwest Oregon coordinator for a group called “Oath Keepers,” spoke to the council April 1, during the citizen comment portion of the agenda.
“It really started in 2001, in September,” McKirgan explained. “President Bush signed an authorization for the use of military force into law. By October, we had the U.S.A. UnPatriot Act.”
He went on to say the NDAA was implemented in 2012.
“It encompasses every single American in here,” he said. “It puts us under military rule in the event of national emergency.”
He said he hoped to be added to the agenda for the council to take some action on the act.
“We’re trying to nullify, actually the Constitution nullifies it, we’re trying to reject and repeal section 1021 and 1022,” McKirgan explained. “Oath Keepers is not a militia. We are an organization of education. We reach, teach and inspire others to follow the oaths of office that they swore to uphold the Constitution. This is an unconstitutional act that places America on the battlefield, where everybody inside that battlefield are subject to the rules of military law.”
He said the act means the government could do surveillance without a warrant and people could be held indefinitely, tortured or assassinated. He said civilian detainees would not be allowed due process, may be denied access to an attorney, denied communication with others and may get a military trial, rather than a civilian one.
He said he’s hoping cities will deny their police forces to be parties to, as he put it, denial of constitutional rights.
After Councilor Frank Barth made a motion to add the subject to the May agenda, which was seconded, there was discussion by the council.
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“Why do you need us?” asked Mayor Keith Tymchuk. “If this is nullified by the Constitution, don’t we have a federal court structure that will nullify this?”
McKirgan said the issue is still making its way through the federal court system.
“This would decree, and make it a policy, that the city of Reedsport would not allow any of their officers, or employees, to become involved in that (the NDAA),” he told the council. “As a matter of fact, it would protect the citizens from the unconstitutional act, itself.”
The council voted the request down.
The mayor, after the vote, reiterated his view of allowing the issue to make its way through the federal courts.
“I have a problem where you’re stating the police department won’t act when their job is to act when there’s some type of big catastrophe going on,” Councilor Mike Macho said. “That’s their job to do that and to help out whenever they can. For you to come here and say that we’re going to tell the police department not to act, when they take an oath of office, I don’t understand that.”
“The oath is to the Constitution,” McKirgan countered.
“If people don’t abide by the law, they go to jail,” Macho said.
“If it’s legal,” McKirgan said. “If it’s an unlawful, or immoral law, they’re required to stand down.”