Restore the Fourth Wants the Government to Stop Spying & Lying
The march ended on the stairs of Federal Hall, where, one person took out his iPhone and read the Fourth Amendment aloud and perpetual protester Reverend Billy Talen led a skit that dramatized President Obama and President George W. Bush spying on and arresting ordinary citizens. Everyone in attendance vowed to continue the fight to protect civil liberties, and when Ben Doernberg, who led the NYC march, said his last words and people began to disperse, a man in the crowd yelled at the top of his lungs:
“Snowden is a hero! Snowden is a patriot!”
A final chant ensued:
“Snowden is me, Snowden is you, if they arrest Snowden, we know what to do!”
Afterward, I talked to Ben about how the protest came together and what the organization’s future goals were.
VICE: What is Restore the Fourth?
Ben Doernberg: Restore the Fourth is a grassroots, non-partisan movement that has been organized over just the last few weeks to oppose the unconstitutional, sweeping surveillance policies that we found out the NSA is pursuing. Essentially, what we were about today was turning out and showing that people do care about their constitutional rights, and they’re willing to take a stand. I mean, this is a tough day, right? It’s a holiday, it’s really hot, but people care.
And why should people care?
People should care because this is a constitutional right, and when the American people don’t stand up for constitutional rights, we’ve seen the direction that that goes in—whether its McCarthyism, whether it’s the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II in, essentially, prison camps. When there’s pressure to take away liberties for security, it doesn’t work, and if people don’t push back, we end up with some of the worst things in American history happening. It’s really important to take a stand as soon as possible to kind of reverse the tide. And I think we’re starting to see that.
There’s a letter written to the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, by 26 senators, demanding an explanation on what’s going on. So you are starting to see a groundswell.
Do you think that Americans generally are OK with these NSA spying programs? Polls on the subject have said different things.
What you see with the polling is, depending on how you ask the question, you get different answers. What that says to people who have experience with polling is that people don’t know. People haven’t made up their minds yet. Maybe 20 percent [of Americans] feel strongly that [the spying programs are] a great idea, about 45 percent are really strongly against it, and then there are about 30 percent in the middle who aren’t quite sure yet. I think that’s where a movement like Restore the Fourth comes in—we’re hoping to convince that 30 percent that our constitutional rights are worth fighting for.