Protesters gather in dozens of cities to call for the end of the PATRIOT Act as the future of NSA spying hangs in the balance
Activists across the country held signs, computers, and tablets outside Senate offices with one message: "Sunset the PATRIOT Act." Edward Snowden promoted the vigils, while 12,000+ websites join in solidarity
As the sun set on Thursday, activists and Internet users of varying political stripes gathered outside Senate offices across the country and in Washington, DC to call for Congress to oppose any reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act and instead let key provisions that enable NSA spying to sunset on June 1st.
Click here to see photos from the vigils: http://imgur.com/a/iDSvA
The "Sunset Vigils" were organized in a rapid-response fashion by Internet activists using Facebook events, email, and social media to spread the word on less than 48 hours notice,
Whistleblower Edward Snowden encouraged redditors to attend the protests during his reddit AMA on Thursday afternoon, and more than 12,000 websites quickly mobilized to spread the word about the action using a "widget" released by the Internet Defense League.
Advocacy groups including Color of Change, CREDO, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, MoveOn, Popular Resistance, and Restore the Fourth supported the vigils.
"The U.S. government is losing our trust every single day that these illegal spying programs continue," said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, "The crowds that gathered at sunset today are only the beginning. It’s time we come together and let the sun go down on this dark age of government surveillance. Together we will end the PATRIOT Act, and the sun can rise on a new day filled with freedom and privacy for all."
"Just a few weeks ago an expiration of 215 of any length seemed impossible, but hundreds of thousands have spoken out and upended conventional inside-the-Beltway wisdom" said David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress. "More than 13 years since the Patriot Act’s passage, and after craven abuse of Section 215 and other authorities, we are reminded why sunsets are written into bills like this: It is time for the intelligence agencies to answer for their violations of the public trust."
"The PATRIOT Act, passed when the nation was in shock from the September 11 attacks, was never meant to be permanent. That’s why sunset was written into the law," said Becky Bond, Vice President of CREDO Mobile. "Our surveillance agencies have gone rogue, and sunsetting the PATRIOT Act – even if just for a few days – would be the first real step Congress has taken toward ending unconstitutional spying on Americans," Bond continued.
""The NSA got caught with its hand in the cookie jar", said Alex Marthews, national chair of Restore The Fourth. "The security agencies have been misusing the PATRIOT Act in order to spy on us all. Explain to me why we should let them keep doing it, instead of confining them to their real job: Spying on actual criminals and actual agents of foreign powers?"
"The balance between national security and civil liberties has been out of whack for more than a decade," said Free Press Action Fund Government Relations Manager Sandra Fulton. "People have had enough of government efforts to spy on all aspects of our lives. The nationwide sunset vigils have sent a signal to Washington: It’s time we closed this chapter on mass surveillance and restored everyone’s rights to connect and communicate in private.”
See a full gallery of photos at http://imgur.com/a/iDSvA
New York City, NY