May 26, 2015—As President Barack Obama urges the Senate to renew the National Security Agency surveillance authorization in spite of Senator Rand Paul’s vows to allow the Patriot Act to sunset, activists gathered nationwide to protest.
Fight For The Future, an organization founded in 2011 with the goal of organizing activists fighting for digital rights, organized several protests in most of the major urban areas of the country this past Thursday, May 21st. The organization used the protests to ask lawmakers to allow the Patriot Act to expire.
During the event organized by FFTF in Los Angeles, CA, VoicesofLiberty.com talked to one of the founders of the organization. We also heard from other activists who approve of what Sen. Rand Paul has done in the Senate to stop the Patriot Act.
Torey Alvarez, one of the FFTF founding members who’s currently not involved with the organization, said the protests stemmed from Paul’s brave stance against the surveillance state.
“As soon as it became apparent that, with [Rand Paul’s] filibuster, [we had] a chance to actually have the entire section expire, or [in other words] to sunset the surveillance part of the Patriot Act, the coalition decided to organize these protests and to encourage senators and representatives to let it [Patriot Act] expire.”
To Alvarez, the fight to allow the Patriot Act to expire is personal.
“I’ve been a political activist for almost my whole life,” Alvarez told VoicesofLiberty.com. “This type of surveillance has been used not only by governments around the world but also by my own government to spy on people who are engaged in political activism.”
To the protester, the Patriot Act gives the government too much power “to discourage dissent.”
But to activist and mom Cynthia Knutson, the fight against the surveillance state has a lot to do with building a safe future for her children.
“You think about your responsibilities for the future,” Knutson said, “and you want them to learn to stand up for [what’s] right, and it seems inherently wrong that the government would spy on everyone en masse.”
To Debbie Springer, another activist present at the event, the problem is that “people don’t really understand what it [government spying] is.”
“People are ignorant to the fact that we have laws that say one thing, like the constitution that says the [government] does not have a right to search and seizure, but they [government] have all of this information [on Americans] anyway.”
According to Springer, once an agency uses this information on an individual without context, he or she is powerless. That’s why it’s important for people concerned about their safety and freedom to speak up.
Knutson agrees. To her, “we already have laws on the book [that say] you need to get a search warrant if you need [further information on somebody.]” Allowing the government to continue to gather further information without due process is out of the question:
“In my old age, when I’m asked to give an answer to ‘what did you do?’ I can say, you know what, I said this was wrong, I stood up for people fighting against government spying because I want to make the world a better place for my kids and grandkids.”
The NSA’s surveillance powers expire just as Sunday, May 31st ends at midnight. Sen. Paul has until then to convince fellow lawmakers to allow the Patriot Act to expire.
Do you believe the NSA’s surveillance powers should be allowed to expire? Comment below.
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Sources: McClatchyDC.com, Fight For The Future