One way to beat the NSA at its own game: Adopt a highway.

For its big Fourth of July protest, the Salt Lake City chapter went to the NSA’s soon-to-open massive data collection center. Armed with signs, the group gathered on a vacant lot outside the center, only to be met with NSA employees who forced them to leave. The NSA beat them on a technicality — though the lot is vacant and used for parking by lots of people, the federal government is the owner.

Lorina Potter laughs, somewhat bitterly. “You can watch everything we do but we can’t even protest?”

Lorina and the rest of the Restore the 4th chapter went back to the drawing boards. “What are we going to do to overcome this?” they mused.

“We knew this was going to be a huge problem,” Lorina said.

Someone threw out the half-joking suggestion: Let’s adopt the highway in front of the center.

They did.

Salt Lake City is ready, Lorina said, to host its first protest/litter pickup just in time for Saturday, when people will gather in Washington, D.C., for a national protest on the anniversary of the Patriot Act.

“I’ve still got work out the logistics,” Lorina said. “We may use the buddy system — one person carrying a sign as one person picks up trash.”

However the logistics play out, the Restore the 4th chapter will be well within its legal rights and out of harm’s way from the NSA.

The Utah chapter’s Adopt a Highway has made headlines, first hitting the Salt Lake Tribune, quickly followed by local TV coverage and a story with the Associated Press. The AP story was picked up by the Washington Post. And Lorina answered the phone Thursday, only to discover Ron Paul on the other end. Paul interviewed her for a segment on his RonPaulChannel.com, set to air this week.

“I’m excited because we’ve gotten so much free press” for both the Utah chapter and the nationwide Restore the 4th effort, Lorina said. She laughed. “You can only share so much information with your friends before they stop reading it.”

And as a permanent reminder to the NSA that the watchers are being watched, the chapter will have two signs posted on the highway proclaiming, “Adopt a Highway Utah, Restore the 4th.”

Rochester City Hall

Daniel Cole was looking for a non-binding referendum opposing NSA spying. What he got was even better. The Rochester City Council wrote a letter directly to Congress.

When Dan appeared before the city council, he was well-armed with a great speech, well-researched background information to distribute and copies of a resolution the council could make its own. The council listened attentively but didn’t commit to anything.

Dan didn’t give up. He contacted the mayor’s aide at least once a week, by phone and by email. “I got the ‘talk-around,'” Dan said. Eventually, the aide let Dan know that the council doesn’t do resolutions, particularly if they don’t relate to city business, so it just wasn’t going to happen. Instead, the aide suggested the city draft a letter to New York’s U.S. senators and Rep. Louise Slaughter, a Democrat who represents the city and voted no on the Amash amendment.

Much to Dan’s surprise – and delight – it happened. A few weeks later, when Dan was hoping to see a mere draft, the aide sent Dan a copy of a letter that had been drafted, signed by all the council members and mailed. Signed, sealed, delivered.

The letter was a stern reminder to Slaughter and New York’s Democratic senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer that the council had warned the delegation of dire consequences when the Patriot Act was reauthorized in 2006. “… where do we draw the line between protecting our citizenry and country and destroying the very values upon which our republic has thrives?” says the letter. Where, indeed?

Dan said he believed his success with the Rochester City Council was two-fold. First, the Rochester Restore the 4th chapter held a sizable and successful rally on July 4. “People couldn’t stop talking about it for weeks and weeks,” he said. So the council members knew how outraged the citizens of Rochester are. And, secondly, and most importantly, was Dan’s physical act of appearing before the council. Dan said his actual appearance seemed to act as a catalyst for council, giving them a concrete reason to act on thoughts the members already privately held.

Dan made it easy for them. He provided a resolution, he provided all the background information and he provided plenty of research. “If you can provide it all for them, it just increases your chances of them (writing a letter or passing a resolution),” he said. And he followed up. Dan sent emails to each city council member, thanking them for signing and sending the letter.

Just as a physical letter sends a stronger message than an e-mail, a letter from a city council sends a much stronger message than a letter from an individual. If we want Congress to take action to end unconstitutional surveillance, we need them to hear our voices. But we also need them to know they aren’t going to stop hearing our voices, that our voices and capable of influencing things like elections. If a City Council decides it needs to take notice of opponents of unconstitutional surveillance, that sends a strong message to your representatives in Congress that they need to as well. Slaughter, Gillibrand, and Schumer didn’t just get a letter from Dan. They got a letter from Rochester.

If you’re interested in emulating Restore the Fourth Rochester’s activism with your own city council, feel free to use these resources for reference or as templates:

Proposed Resolution for Rochester City Council

Memo to Rochester City Council

Letter to Congress from Rochester City Council

Two people.  Two hours.  One hundred people reached.  That’s how Christy Johnson and the Birmingham chapter pulled off a Constitution Day event on September 17th.

“Constitution Day was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” said Christy.  “But it fell on a Tuesday, when we knew people would be at work.”  So she and another volunteer set up shop during a long lunch hour at Linn Park, which sits between the Birmingham City Hall and the Jefferson County Courthouse, picking a time when the park is packed with lawyers and jurors and other citizens on government business.

“Our goal was to get in front of a lot of people and make it matter to them personally,” she said.  They spread out, individually approaching people in the park, taking time to explain to each person how his own individual cell phone is accessed by the federal government, how the government is tracking every number he calls.

Christy told us that many people were unaware of the NSA surveillance and shocked by the idea of the government spying on them.  “Only one person said he was fine with the surveillance, if it meant the nation was safer,” she said.

They handed out flyers outlining the Fourth Amendment and NSA issues along with pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution and American flags, wishing everyone a Happy Constitution Day.

“We have made it a large part of our mission to be educational,” Christy said.  “We feel like if we can raise awareness and educate people, then people will connect the dots for themselves.”

The Birmingham group did not seek any sort of permits for the gathering and did not have any problems.  When approached by a policeman, he only said he was glad to see people concerned about NSA surveillance.  “It’s cool to know that even people in law enforcement feel the government has overstepped its bounds,” Christy remarked.

The Birmingham chapter is working hard to keep the NSA surveillance issue in the forefront of citizens’ minds in every way, from non-binding resolutions, to “papering” events, to meeting with a Congressman.

The chapter’s next step is to meet with Birmingham’s city council members to ask for a non-binding resolution condemning the use of drones for domestic surveillance.  “It’s only a message. It’s non-binding, but at least the message will be sent,” she said.  Christy has hopes the resolution will happen, even though, ironically, Alabama state leaders are working to recruit drone manufacturers to operate in the state.

Chapter members met with Congressman Spencer Bachus, a Republican representative for parts of the Birmingham area, to express their concerns.  They were surprised when Bachus enthusiastically agreed with Restore the 4th’s message.  Bachus was the only Alabama representative to vote for the failed Amash amendment in July.

Just as in Austin, the Birmingham march on July 4 encompassed a cross-section of Alabama folks *Tea Partiers marching with Occupiers, 60-year-olds alongside teenagers.  “What makes this successful is our focus on a singular issue,” Christy said.  “I really believe that’s what makes this bulletproof.  We won’t be divided and conquered.”

Alongside the flyers on Constitution Day, Christy taped up a copy of the feisty Alabama state motto: “We Dare Defend Our Rights.”

“If anybody is gonna roll over and take it, it better not be Alabama!” Christy vowed.

Restore the Fourth Austin protesting on July 4th

This is the first in a series of interviews with local organizers conducted by Teri Walley. To be featured in a future edition, please email organizing@restorethefourth.net.

Bellingham, Washington

“When I heard the things that Edward Snowden revealed, it took what we’ve all suspected for years was going on in a quasi-conspiracy sort of way and made it fact,” said Odin Maxwell, an organizer in the small town of Bellingham, Washington. “The potential for abuse is massive.” Maxwell, a lawyer, decided to get involved.

For 1984 Day, he and a software programmer pulled together an encryption education program at a local market‒specifically, a presentation on the erosion of our Fourth Amendment rights and how to safeguard yourself against illegal government surveillance.

The Bellingham pair advertised through Reddit, Twitter, Craigslist, and the Bellingham Linux Users’ Group. Odin approached a regular peace protest group about attending and spreading the word of the program. They also sent emails to groups such as the local Libertarian and Green parties. Though only 13 people came to the first program, Odin is continuing his work. He’s planning another encryption education program for September 22 and increasing his advertising this time with printed posters and by approaching the local newspaper.

A second tack for Odin is to involve the Bellingham City Council. Odin plans to ask the city council to pass a nonbinding resolution against mass espionage. “The voice of a city may be louder than the individual citizen,” Odin said, “and if more and more cities pass these resolutions, the voices will echo even louder.”

A third tack has been the direct protest approach. Odin and two others waved protest banners along thehighway during rush hour. “It doesn’t take a lot of people to make an impact. Roughly 3,000 people saw our signs and gave a very positive response,” he said. Odin laughed, “and in an hour and a half, only one person gave us the finger!”

Austin, Texas

Like Odin, Samantha Mahool first became involved after hearing about NSA surveillance. “My initial Restore the 4th action was before Restore the 4th became a movement,” she said.

Through Reddit, she became involved in Austin’s successful July 4 rally, when about 300 people gathered at the Texas state capital, then marched through the streets of Austin, passing by both the federal courthouse and Austin City Hall. The rally brought in citizens of every political stripe from Tea Partiers to diehard liberals to at least one anarchist. “This is a civil rights issue, not a political issue,” Samantha said, “and therefore should be important to everyone.”

The key was in strong advertising. Press releases — sharpened by journalist friends — were sent to newspapers and radio and television stations, including the college outlets. Fliers were posted in coffee houses and bookstores. Bookstore owners were also given special handouts to place on checkout counters for customers to take, advertising the rally and educating them about the Fourth Amendment and surveillance.

Samantha also tracked down a list of active clubs for the University of Texas and St. Edwards University and their presidents and sent personal email invitations to each club, which brought in rallygoers.

The advertising worked well; the local NPR station posted photos on its website, and the rally was mentioned in the Austin Chronicle, a local alternative newspaper. “We stopped traffic, and tons of people were talking about it,” Samantha reported.

At the rally, the Austin chapter announced its next event: a crypto party set for two weeks later. Of the 67 attendees, half were “techies” and the other half were beginners, ready to learn to protect themselves.

“Our rule is always try to advertise the next event at the event you’re having right now,” Samantha said. “The people at the rally were already interested, so they are the very people most likely to be the ones to come to your next event.” The Austin chapter has two more events on tap already ‒ another encryption party on September 18 and attending the documentary Terms and Conditions May Apply on September 19. The group plans to hand out buttons and pamphlets before and after the movie with the intention of spreading the word and getting more people involved.

Samantha feels that one key to keeping the movement alive in Austin is to have a consistent meeting time and place. “It seems to make it easier if people know that every Saturday, at the same time and same place, people are going to be there. And that consistency,” she said, “brings new people and more people all the time.”

Tips from Bellingham:

  • It doesn’t take a lot of people to make a big impact. More than 3,000 people in rush hour traffic got the Restore the 4th message delivered by 3 people holding 2- by 4-foot banners.
  • Approach your city council about passing a nonbinding resolution against mass espionage. The more city councils involved, the more weight for the average citizen.
  • Odin organized an encryption information presentation at a local market, passing along tips on how citizens can protect themselves and reinforcing the message of Restore the 4th.

Tips from Austin:

  • Have a regular time and place to meet. Consistency works. 
  • To advertise Austin’s July 4 rally, Samantha found lists of active clubs at the University of Texas 
  • and other nearby colleges and sent the club presidents personal email invitations.
  • Always advertise the next event during the one going on right now. The people at the rally today are already involved, so they’re the people most likely to come to your encryption party in two weeks.
  • Along with press releases, the Austin chapter sent ready-made scripts to the local radio stations to make it easier for announcers — and more likely the release would be used.
  • Personal outreach is important. Organizers engaged bookstore owners in conversations about the movement when posting fliers and handouts. The owners themselves participated in the rally as much as the customers.

Last Wednesday, the House voted on an amendment proposed by Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, that would have effectively ended the warrantless collection of phone metadata the NSA claims is allowed under the PATRIOT Act. The amendment lost by a narrow 12 vote margin, 205-217, and blurred party lines. This may seem like a defeat, but 205 is a much larger number than anyone was expecting. 134 Republicans voted ‘no’ and 94 voted ‘yes’. The Democrats had a slightly stronger showing, with only 83 voting ‘no’ and 111 voting yes. This is in sharp contrast to past votes relating to unconstitutional surveillance, like the 2011 vote to extend the PATRIOT Act, which passed 250-153 and which only 31 Republicans voted against.

We got there thanks to all of you, who volunteered your time to clog your Representatives’ phone lines just before the vote and went online to make sure others did as well. Because of our work, restoring the Fourth Amendment is at the forefront of the national conversation. With a new poll showing that 56 percent of Americans think the government has overstepped its bounds in collecting personal data, and intense pressure on Washington from citizens of all political persuasions to rein in its surveillance programs, it may only be a matter of time until Congress successfully votes to put a halt on the NSA’s surveillance activities.

Now what can we do? We can keep up the pressure on the government. We can make sure this issue doesn’t fall out of the public view. Many movements succeed in bringing a lot of attention to their cause, but only those that maintain it are ultimately successful. If your representative voted for the Amash Amendment, call and give them your thanks. If not, call to say you took note of their decision to vote in favor of unconstitutional surveillance, and hope they won’t make the same mistake next time – if they’re still in office to make it. Keep spreading the word about unconstitutional surveillance and those voting for it on Facebook, Twitter, and reddit.

But while calls and social media activism help, they fall far short of meeting with your Congressman face-to-face. Starting on August 5th, our representatives will return to their home districts for a full month. This is our chance to lobby them directly. They spend all year listening to corporate lobbyists and intelligence heads; now, they get to hear from us. This August, we take the fight to their doorsteps. 217 representatives are now on record as being just fine with unconstitutional surveillance. We’ll tell them why that’s just wrong.

Organizing a meeting is simple. If you’re as bold as Restore the Fourth New York, you can just walk in and demand one. But formally organizing one is easy too: all you really need is a phone, a computer, and a bit of persistence. Attending a meeting is even easier. We only need to convince seven reps to tip the scale and consider it a victory, but if we convince many more, we can consider it a resounding success. Free Press has put together a tool that simplifies the process of organizing and recruiting for meetings. Join a meeting near you or schedule your own. Either way, take advantage of this rare slice of time to meet with your elected representatives and explain why this issue matters.

Just as face-to-face meetings with representatives are more effective than letters and phone calls, on-the-ground promotion is the most effective way to get more people to join, and media outlets to follow the issue. And that’s what we need to do on 1984 Day on August 4th. When we protest unconstitutional surveillance, we must make sure the citizens that hear us also take advantage of this opportunity. Congress’ summer recess starts the day after, and we must use 1984 Day to make sure all defenders of the Fourth Amendment know and take advantage of it.

Visit defundthensa.com to call Congress and our thunderclap page to spread the word.

A crucial vote is about to take place in the House of Representatives on a bipartisan amendment that would “block funding for NSA programs using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to mass collect the call records of innocent Americans.” This is a major turning point in the battle for the Fourth Amendment and against unconstitutional surveillance, and we need to act fast and flood Congress with calls in support of the amendment.

Yesterday Congress received more than 60,000 calls and 100,000 emails in support of it, and those working on Capitol Hill tell us the pressure we’re putting on is being noticed by lawmakers, the White House, and the NSA alike. Last night we learned that the vote has been delayed from early today to either this evening or Thursday, giving us an extra day to call Congress. We need to use this extra time to our advantage and make sure at least another 100,000 Americans speak out in favor of defunding NSA spying.

Blocking funding for these programs would be a huge policy change in favor of privacy and the Fourth Amendment. But even if the vote to amend the bill narrowly falls short, or the amended bill is vetoed, getting 200+ representatives to vote for the amendment would be a great momentum boost for our movement and a mortal wound against unconstitutional surveillance. Above all, we can’t let this vote get defeated by a wide margin and let the NSA think they have nothing to be afraid of.

So we need to do two things today:

  • Visit defundthensa.com, set up by Demand Progress and Fight for the Future, and use it to call Congress and tell your representatives to vote to defund unconstitutional surveillance. Then urge your friends and family to do the same.
  • Visit the thunderclap and pledge to spread the word about this vote on social media.

This is in our hands, but we need to act fast, so let’s go.

The tide is turning against the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance programs. Tuesday, a diverse group of political advocacy groups and other associations filed suit against the NSA for “violating their First Amendment right of association by illegally collecting their call records.” Today, dozens of organizations including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and reddit will release a letter demanding “dramatically increased transparency around U.S. government surveillance efforts.” Two-thirds of Americans support public congressional hearings on these programs. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee began such hearings, which AP described with the headline “NSA spying under fire.”

These organizations and the American people are right to fear the NSA’s secret and unconstitutional collection of private information, the threat of which goes beyond the illegality and the ongoing violation of your privacy. For instance, Edward Snowden demonstrated that the NSA’s internal safeguards are not effective at controlling their employees’ or their contractors’ access to information. Who knows what someone with different intentions but access to the same information might have done? Additionally, we’re setting the precedent that it’s OK for the government to violate our rights and privacy this way, and allowing our government to create more and more tools with which to do so. This brings us much closer to the wide-scale use of spying as a political tool, something oppressive governments have employed throughout history.

While yesterday’s hearings were a step in the right direction for Congress, it was also revealed that the NSA can look at telephone and Internet data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from “everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.” As the momentum to challenge unconstitutional surveillance builds, the magnitude of the threat does as well. Both of these are strong reasons to increase efforts to spread awareness and pressure the government to take additional action.

George Orwell’s novel 1984 is a chilling vision of what might lie ahead if we don’t take action. While the technology used in the novel is different, the basic principles are the same. And while we may not live in a society like Orwell described this year, or next, that is only because of the vigilance we have shown in preventing it, and now that vigilance is needed as much as ever.

That’s why we’re calling August 4th “1984 Day.” From marches in NYC and Los Angeles to speeches by policymakers and whistleblowers in San Francisco, Restore the Fourth chapters across the country will be observing 1984 Day to remind policymakers that 1984 is a warning, not an instruction manual, and to warn Americans what might happen if they let themselves believe national security requires disregarding privacy, individual rights, and the rule of law.

Just as our protests on July 4th got the attention of the NSA as well as that of national and international media, 1984 Day’s events will serve as a reminder that our protests were not just a party. To capitalize on our great work two weeks ago, we must teach them that it was the start of a still-growing movement, one that will not stop until unconstitutional surveillance is ended. This will be Restore the Fourth’s second set of simultaneous nationwide events, but instead of each city hosting a protest, this time different local chapters will be experimenting with a variety of event types, from rallies to speaking engagements to street theater and much more. While some already have something scheduled, most of the local organizers that put together July 4th’s protests are convening now to decide what 1984 Day’s events will be. Remember to subscribe to our newsletter and check out the national Facebook event page so that you receive updates on newly scheduled events, especially if there isn’t one planned for your area yet. If you’re interested in helping, e-mail organizing@restorethefourth.net and we’ll either put you in contact with those already working on it or set you up to take the lead yourself.

It’s 2013 and 1984 still hasn’t quite come. By working together on August 4th, we can make sure it doesn’t come in 2014 or any other year either.

On July 4th, tens of thousands of you came out to protest unconstitutional surveillance methods. There are many more protests and other actions upcoming (a bit more on that below), but as we’ve said many times, the next step is to let those in Washington who noticed us know this isn’t over.

The way to do that is for all of us, including those who have already, to call our representatives and senators Friday to tell them it isn’t over, and to make sure each of our friends do the same. One number you can use is 1-STOP-323-NSA (1-786-732-3672) – make sure you have your zip code ready. Those of us on Facebook can join the event page and make sure those on our friends list take notice of it.

You may be thinking: Why make a day-specific campaign out of calling Congress when it’s been recommended all along? Concentrating calls from as many people as possible in one day will draw more attention from Congress and others than if those calls were more spread out. Additionally, it: will serve as a reminder to those who haven’t called Congress yet; makes it easier to spread the message on social media and other venues; and will help keep attention on Restore the Fourth and on the issue of unconstitutional surveillance while we prepare for future protests and other action.

Tips for Friday

  • Call using call.stopwatching.us which will help you connect to the right office and provide talking points, and look up your local representative’s position on unconstituional surveillance beforehand. Or consider using this script.
  • Read up on the issues (e.g. in our FAQ and Press Releases and other sites’ guides) beforehand so you know what to say, and so that you can address friends that question you on why they should participate.
  • Considering sending a letter and email as well. There are some templates on our Resources Pages which you can use if necessary, and can edit at your own discretion.
  • On Friday afternoon ask your friends if they remembered to call. Many people will be willing to do it but will need a last-minute reminder.

And this isn’t all that’s being worked on.

Note on Restore the Fourth’s Future Activities

Our last blog post laid out some of the projects the national and local organizers are discussing, including the one described above, so let’s look at the others. While we put “political lobbying” and “legal action” as projects on our radar – and it’s conceivable we’ll find that to be a worthwhile project at some point – these aren’t things Restore the Fourth will be working on in the coming months. We aren’t prepared or funded for that level of action and it’s best left to organizations like the ACLU and EFF. What we need to put on the agenda are the kind of low-cost, grassroots efforts to fight unconstitutional surveillance that we’re best at, like those from the 4th. Here’s two that are most likely going to happen:

  • Another set of local protests on August 4th, a few of which are already being planned by local organizers, using the 4th of the month as the go-to date for protests. August 4th’s can also be a send off for…
  • A campaign to get Restore the Fourth participants and other critics of unconstitutional surveillance out to town hall meetings during Congress’s summer recess. From August 5th to September 6th, members of Congress will be back home listening to constituents with the media present, and if we want to make it really clear this isn’t over, we need to make unconstitutional surveillance the center of that discussion and the main thing on lawmakers’ mind when they go back to D.C.

We hope you’ll participate in both and that you’ll remember to call Congress on Friday to tell them unconstitutional surveillance is unacceptable and that this isn’t over!

Discuss on reddit

   

On July 4th 2013, tens of thousands of you from over 50 cities across the United States came out to protest unconstitutional surveillance. What began as online discussions between anonymous strangers over the Internet became in less than a month a coordinated nationwide movement that turned the heads of the American people and their government alike.

But while a great number of people have called these protests a success, they are correct only if we use these protests as a launching pad for further action. Unconstitutional surveillance methods like the NSA’s PRISM are still operating after the protests, as we knew they would be. We took a successful first step towards ending them, but now we must take the next one, which starts with studying the results of our work on the 4th so that we can capitalize on its successes and learn from its shortcomings.

On Turnout

We were pleased to find that approximately 20 000 protesters participated nationally and many cities (e.g. Boston, D.C., New York, San Francisco) reached close to 1000 – NYC, for instace, estimated 930-960. City-to-city, turnout varied from great to moderate to small. And it all made for some great photography.

The numbers might have and should have been larger, but any cynicism about the results would be misplaced. Most attempted protest movements fail to ever get tens of thousands of people, and most protest movements don’t start out as large as they eventually become. And so we will make this one larger, and staging our first set of protests on Thursday helped us do that.

Saying “Mission Accomplished” and moving onto other things would be silly and naive, because PRISM and other unconstitutional surveillance programs still exist. What we accomplished was bringing a significant amount of extra attention to this scandal and to our cause, and put together a great amount of experience, resources, and contacts for future work so that we can bring even more attention to unconstitutional surveillance and eventually end it. Even the smallest protests brought local media attention to this issue.

Media Impact

Your protests this week brought major local, national, and international media attention to our movement and, more importantly, to the issue of the Fourth Amendment and the unconstitutional surveillance that violates it.

According to analytics ordered for us by reddit GM Erik Martin, Restore the Fourth was referenced eight times Thurdsay on major national TV and radio stations (Bloomberg Radio, The Call, CNBC World, CNN, CNN International, and Fox News; and NPR twice) and 259 times on local TV and radio stations.

The print and online publications that ran one or more articles on us inlude BBC, The Boston Globe, CBC, CBS, Cnet, CNN, Fox News, The Gazette, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, International Business Times, LA Times, Mashable, Politico, Reuters, Time, The Times of India, RT, SF Gate, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Yahoo News, and Wikinews.

Other advocacy organizations that supported us with assistance or promotion or both include EFF, Fight for the Future, Internet Defense League, various Occupy Wall Street organizations (like these folks), PANDA, and stopwatching.us. (Surely I forgot some, so please email me to add you if I did). Politicians and celebrities that spoke out in suport include Rand Paul, Gary Johnson, Thomas Drake, and John Cusack. Support came from the left as well as the right as well as from every other direction and that is exactly what we wanted. Even the NSA itself found it suitable to take some notice and gave some support… for our first amendment rights. It’s a start?

According to Google Trends, by late June news and search traffic for “Fourth Amendment” had declined to less than 20% of what it had been when the NSA/PRISM scandal first broke, but shot up to more than 80% on the 4th, most likely largely because of our protests.

What all this means is that we succeded, at least temporarily, in preventing the media cycle and the attention of the American people from moving away from the Fourth Amendment and the violations of it that were revealed a month ago. This is a critical first step, because the country’s citizens can’t take action to stop a scandal they’ve forgotten about, and we have established our movement with a cultural presence and larger base of support that we can build off of. We’ve made real progress, and that’s something all of our participants should be really excited about, and proud of. But now we have to capitalize on that progress.

What comes next?

Restore the Fourth is a grassroots movement, and how we move forward is largely to be determined by what the various independent local organizers that conducted these protests want to do. So long as their work remains non-partisan, non-violent, and focused on ending unconstitutional surveillance, we will make it our job to provide them with the promotion and resources they need. Some are already beginning to plan their next event. Here are some of the interesting ideas for future projects that have been brought up by ourselves, local organizers, or the community:

– Planning, coordinating, and promoting future nationwide protests like those on July 4th.

– Planning, coordinating, and promoting a massive one-city protest in Washington D.C.

– Phone call, petitioning, and letter-writing campaigns directed towards both Congress and state governments.

– Exploring more local spheres of influence such as town hall meetings.

– Political lobbying in defense of the 4th Amendment.

– Legal action in defense of the 4th Amendment.

And here is some of what the Restore the Fourth national organization is spending the weekend doing:

– Working on bringing local organizers the level of direct involvement they should have had with the national organization a long time ago, and communicating with them about what we did right, what we did wrong, and what we should do next.

– Preparing additional information about who we are and how we function, for the benefit of both the public and our local organizers; much of this will be put on the website in stages in the coming days.

– Following up on all the talented people that offered to help us over the last week whom we didn’t have time to give the attention they deserved.

– Keeping up contact with with social media communities in order to receive additional ideas and feedback on how to move forward.

– Preparing a press release to be issued Monday morning.

– Researching how we can become – and raising funds to become – a permanent, ongoing organization dedicated to defending the 4th amendment and America from unconstitutional surveillance.

Becoming such an organization is going to require at least a modest level of funding, which we’re more than half way finished raising. So if you want to see such an organization be formed, please check out the indiegogo and consider helping out. I think the campaign lays out a pretty good case that we will use the funding effectively. Tell us what you think.

More information on the projects to be pursued throughout the summer will be made available over the upcoming week as we conference with local organizers. If you’re interested in volunteering either locally or nationally or both, please email organizing@restorethefourth.net with the relevant info and we will set you up.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to our efforts so far. Please keep in touch and keep involved, because this isn’t over.

<< previous posts || next posts >>