America is putting its collective foot down against the NSA — literally. Thousands of protesters stomped their way to the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington D.C. to challenge nationwide surveillance on unsuspecting citizens, The Guardian reports.
According to organizers, it was “the largest rally yet to protest mass surveillance.” The “Stop Watching Us” rally took place on Saturday and many of the demonstrators were ex-politicians, whistleblowers, professional activists, and poets. Gary Johnson, for example, the former governor of New Mexico, felt that too many people shrugged off the NSA’s spy tactics. In his speech, he stated that he wanted the Patriot Act repealed — a law that was implemented by Bush after 9/11 to breach American rights for the sake of impeding terrorism.
Many anti-NSA protesters held “Thank You, Edward Snowden” banners in appreciation for the former NSA contractor who disclosed classified information on the U.S. government’s mass surveillance programs. Furthering their gratitude for the whistleblower, Jesselyn Radack, a former Justice Department ethics, read a Snowden statement to the crowd:
“This isn’t about red or blue party lines, and it definitely isn’t about terrorism,” Snowden wrote. “It’s about being able to live in a free and open society.” He also noted that “elections are coming up, and we are watching you.” Members of Congress and government officials, he said, were supposed to be “public servants, not private investigators.”
Snowden was right; this cause wasn’t about different party lines. The rally was unusually nonpartisan; groups from the left and right came to voice their opposition to Uncle Sam’s prying eyes. William Evans, a member of the Richmond Tea Party, acknowledged the broad range of political coalitions that were present. “We may not always agree on our belief system,” Evans said, “but thank God we agree on the Constitution.”
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