The revelations of massive internet surveillance brought to light by whistleblower Eric Snowden has launched what's being called the "Restore the Fourth" movement with actions planned nationwide. Angered by what has been reported in the The Guardian by Glenn Greenwald regarding the US National Security Agency (NSA) PRISM program and top-secret court court orders turning over Verizon customer phone records, local activists are joining in the fight!
The organized and politically diverse group will be taking their pro-privacy "Restore the Fourth" message tomorrow to Huntington Beach, site of the largest Fourth of July parade west of the Mississippi River.
With the NSA scandal, the fourth in the "Restore the Fourth" movement is in reference to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. constitution and, in the mind of the activists, what better day to highlight that then, well, the Fourth!
Under the amendment, the (supposed) rights of U.S. citizens are to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. "It was designed in part to prevent private communications being inspected by the government," says Christian Larsen of Occupy OC, one of the activists helping to plan tomorrow's event. "It was a fundamental and wise check that safeguards the more familiar rights such as free speech and a free press."
The response of many political figures, both Democrat and Republican, to the exposé of the NSA has been lackluster. "The leadership of both parties are united in their disregard for civil liberties," Larsen opines. As an example, he compares how closely Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein has mirrored former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney in the aftermath of Snowden's whistleblowing.
The bipartisan betrayal has made for interesting political intermingling in Orange County. "Locally, some of us on the progressive side in Occupy OC have been talking to different Tea Party, Libertarian and Oath Keeper members and leaders for about a year, starting with last summer's "Sounds of Truth" park event, says Larsen of the Irvine gathering the Weekly covered. "We've found common ground around strong support for first amendment rights, and opposition to the abuses and losses of freedom we're experiencing in the name of "security.""
The oft-repeated yet oft-ignored words of Benjamin Franklin saying that those willing to trade "essential liberty" for "temporary safety" deserve neither will be given a refresher course. Huntington Beach's Fourth of July parade attracts large crowds and is televised, a prime place to amplify its message.
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And that's what the local "Restore the Fourth" event hopes to do early tomorrow morning around 8:30 a.m. at the parade's starting point on Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway with creative signage, an informational booth and more.
"We still have time to prevent a totalitarian future for the US, but we have to prove to our leaders we're no longer putting up with being spied on like enemies," Larsen says. "Stand with us and make history."
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz