Dave Rice 12:30 p.m., Dec. 11
Hundreds of activists spent their Fourth of July holiday gathered in Balboa Park for Restore the Fourth, one of more than 100 such rallies against National Security Agency surveillance and a perceived violation of citizens’ privacy rights.
A crowd of about 100 had gathered in the fountain plaza along Park Boulevard as speeches began shortly after 11:00, with people continuing to trickle in over the next hour, more than tripling in size before beginning a chant of “Privacy is your right – stand up, unite!” and marching toward the San Diego office of Senator Dianne Feinstein to present a stack of petitions demanding changes to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which governs warrantless surveillance activities.
Protesters waved a host of signs for news cameras, many made on site at a poster-making station, adorned with slogans such as “1984 was a work of fiction, not a blueprint” and “Tap kegs, not phones.” A handful of people braved the heat in plastic Guy Fawkes masks, a symbol of the Anonymous “hacktivist” group and Occupy protests. Veterans for Peace showed up with their model Reaper drone.
Event organizer Kevin Maule seemed happy with the large, enthusiastic crowd.
“History is made by those who show up,” said Maule. “You guys could have been anywhere right now, but you’re here.”
Using the call-and-reply “people’s microphone” technique developed during Occupy, activist Ray Lutz led the crowd in reciting the fourth amendment.
Frank Gormlie, criminal defense lawyer and publisher of the OB Rag, complained about the recent revelation that every piece of mail being sent through the USPS was being photographed and logged, adding to the news broken by Edward Snowden’s leaks that revealed all phone calls and e-mails were similarly being compiled by the government.
“Sadly, I’m not proud to be an American today,” said Gormlie.
“It’s not just about the fourth amendment, is it?” asked Aya Dubman, another Restore the Fourth organizer. “It’s about the first amendment, too. We have freedom of speech, but so many of us feel like we’ve lost our voice.”
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