The Chico Bill of Rights Defense Committee (CBRDC) was a grassroots organization which worked primarily on fighting the USA PATRIOT Act.
The group petitioned the Chico City Council to pass a resolution against the Act, collecting 500 signatures at the Thursday and Saturday Farmers Markets and at CSU Chico, and held forums to educate the public on the Act and its proposed follow-up, the Domestic Security Enhancement Act, nickamed "PATRIOT II".
At a February 2003 meeting, CBRDC secretary Greg Burton addressed the council. Council members Larry Wahl, Steve Bertagna and Dan Herbert made it clear they considered the proposition irrelevant, but mayor Maureen Kirk let him speak.
The committee returned to the council in April, with 2000 signatures, halfway to their goal of 4000. Police Chief Bruce Hagerty stated that the PATRIOT Act has no local effect. The council allowed about 10 people (members of the CBRDC and others) 35 minutes to speak about the act. Burton countered that the act has a provision for creation of Joint Terrorism Task Forces, local teams that work with Federal agents. Wahl, Bertagna and Herbert were clearly hostile to the resolution. Herbert, who had been mostly silent throughout the discussion, closed it with an outburst. He declared that these disagreements were "as old as dirt...we could be discussing civil liberty for the next 10 years." He protested that the CBRDC's allotted time had already run over, that he was hungry and that they should adjourn for lunch.
Since the council had refused to put the resolution to a vote, Burton decided that they would get more results from an initiative. However, after campaigning for the initiative, the group was advised by the ACLU not to attampt an initiative, as no ballot initiatives had been successful, and if one was tried and defeated it would set the cause back. Attempts to deal with the Chico City Council have remained unsuccessful.
The organization held many public forums and even a punk show called the "Day of Dissent" to educate the community on civil rights issues. They have had a variety of experts speak, including spokesmen for the ACLU and fund-raisers including an Arabic dinner party and a yard sale.