Talking to Local Restore the Fourth Organizers: A Highway in Utah

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.”

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