Folks in the United States: I don’t know what you all did for the Fourth of July, but Sarah and I were in Philadelphia’s Washington Square Park — and then on the march — to support Restore the Fourth (#restorethe4th).
For folks who don’t know, Restore the Fourth is a grassroots, non-partisan, non-violent movement, the purpose of which is to demand that the government of the United States of America adhere to its constitutionally dictated limits and respect the Fourth Amendment. It was formed, in part on Reddit, in response to recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance initiatives: the monitoring of telephone conversations, and the PRISM electronic snooping program that was revealed by Edward Snowden. And it has the backing of civil libertarians and libertarian libertarians, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Senator Rand Paul (not really a libertarian libertarian, but plays one on TV).
For the Fourth of July, Restore the Fourth held rallies in more than a hundred cities, including a pretty big one in New York that got some press coverage. Ours in Philly was somewhat smaller. It had, I would estimate, about two hundred participants. But while that doesn’t seem like a particularly inspiring number, what was inspiring was how much vocal encouragement we received from bystanders and passers by.
It seems that folks don’t like an intrusive NSA. And they don’t mind saying so in public.
I don’t actually want to write too much about the rally. Really, what I want is to post some photographs. But I did want to mention this: the coolest, cleverest thing about Restore the Fourth is the way it used not just signs and bullhorns as means of protest, but cell phones, too. The organizers handed out cards with phone numbers for local media, and for a hotline that makes it easy to connect to the right legislators’ voicemail boxes, and leave messages in support of limiting the reach of the NSA.
That number still works. It’s STOP-323-NSA (786-732-3672). So if you didn’t make it to a protest, but you still want to call your legislators, there’s no simpler way to get it done.
At any rate, like I said, really, what I want to do here is show you pictures. These were taken over the course of the event — at the rallying points at Washington Square Park and Board Game Art Park, and during the march from one to the other. I think that they came out pretty neat. And like always: as you go through them, please remember that they are best viewed large.