On a beautiful fall afternoon, demonstrators from around the country marched to within shouting distance of the Capitol to demand that the U.S. government “Stop Watching Us.”
Many MCCRC activists, supporters, and friends were there, too, of course, and several provided some great answers to the question what should come next after the rally. As the march began, we were also fortunate to talk briefly with Naomi Wolf and get her response as well.
Below is a playlist leading with a video of those responses; the background also gives a sense of the high energy and good spirits of a well-organized, well-attended march and rally.
[click the "PLAYLIST" button to choose other videos in this playlist; for sharper video, click the 'gear' icon after starting the video, and select the "HD" option]
Rallygoers marched from Columbus Circle in front of Union Station, to the Capitol Reflecting Pool, following a short route that took us through the Department of Labor underpass — an opportunity for some exceptionally resounding chants of “Wiretap! — Fight back!” and the like.
We were greeted at the rally point by Craig Aaron of Freepress.net, one of the major “Stop Watching Us” coalition members, who led us in a nice, loud barrage of “STOP. WATCHING. US!” chants directed at the Capitol a couple of hundred yards away. That was followed first by a performance by YACHT of their “Party at the NSA” single – and then by one great speaker after another.
Among the memorable moments:
- Laura Murphy, ACLU: “Since the tragic events of September 11th, the government has scared Congress and the American people into giving our spy agencies unchecked power to snoop on us. They gave us the PATRIOT Act. They gave us the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. … At every turn, the ACLU warned Congress and the American people that these laws would be abused.”
- Malachy Byrd, of the DC Youth Poetry Slam Team, updated a familiar recitation: “I pledge civil disobedience to the flag of the hypocritical tyrants who expect us to assimilate, and to the republic, which somehow stands, as one nation under many gods of individuals, stripped of their liberties and indeed of justice for all.”
- Shahid Buttar, BORDC: “We. Will. Defend the Bill of Rights! Say it with me now: we. will. defend the Bill of Rights!”
- Thomas Drake, NSA whistleblower: “It is the constant possibility of observation without our consent … that stultifies society, renders creativity mute, engenders fear and erodes our freedom.”
- A statement by Edward Snowden (text here), read by whistleblower advocate Jesselyn Radack (Government Accountability Project): “…Today, no telephone call from America goes through without a record from the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. [Audience boos.] They’re wrong. [...] We are here to remind our officials that they are public servants, not private investigators. [...] We are witnessing an American moment, in which ordinary people — from high school to high office — stand up to oppose dangerous trends in government. We are told that what is unconstitutional is not illegal. But we will not be fooled.”
And we will not rest until these unconstitutional, suspicionless mass surveillance programs are ended, and Americans — and foreign citizens as well — can rest assured that their phone call records, their emails, their Internet usage, and their contact lists will not be seized or examined without very good reason.
Sincere thanks to the great work done by so many organizers like Charlie Furman, Rainey Reitman, Shahid Buttar, Ben Doernberg, and others to make this rally a success — esp. including our own Martine Zee. For their part, the folks at StopWatching.Us say “Thank you!” as well, and ask supporters to “Message “Privacy” to 877877 using mobile SMS and we’ll get in touch when it’s time for action again.“
- The rally’s Facebook event page is turning into a great ongoing collection of photos and videos of the event.
- The Switchboard: Thousands gather in D.C. to protest NSA surveillance (Peterson, Washington Post, 10/28)
- Thousands gather in Washington for anti-NSA ‘Stop Watching Us’ rally (Newell, The Guardian, 10/26)
- Anti-NSA rally attracts thousands to march in Washington (Jansen/Pesce, USA Today, 10/26)
- Demos gegen Überwachung am Samstag (Biermann, ZEIT Online, 10/26)
- Tausende US-Amerikaner demonstrieren gegen Spähprogramme der NSA (Niemann, tagesschau.de [TV report])
- NSA protesters rally, ‘Stop watching us’ (Viebeck, The Hill, 10/26)
- NSA ‘Stop Watching Us’ Protest Draws Thousands In Washington (Mohamed, Huffington Post, 10/26)
- Hundreds march at anti-NSA rally in D.C. (NBC Nightly News, 10/26)
- Hundreds in DC Protest Against Surveillance State (The Real News Network, 10/26)
- Techies concerned over NSA surveillance will march in D.C., proclaiming ‘Stop Watching Us’ (Argetsinger, Washington Post, 10/25)
- Stop Watching Us eyes big rally against NSA surveillance (Q&A) (Kerr, CNET, 10/25)
C-SPAN: Rally Against NSA Surveillance Oct 26, 2013
(video of entire rally)