Thousands of people attended an anti-National Security Agency rally in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, and the message was clearly defined in the hashtag used for the event; #StopWatchingUs. The rally was a peaceful one and featured speeches from libertarian politicians, including former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower, as well as a statement from Edward Snowden that was read to the crowd.
The rally was held in the wake of spying allegations against the NSA that were brought to the world's attention by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The documents released by Snowden revealed widespread spying by the NSA on different government, including Germany and Brazil, and detailed the capabilities of the agency, including the ability to read text messages as well as providing backdoors for secure online protocols.
Journalist Dave Weigel from Slate was at the anti-NSA rally on Saturday and witnessed attendees from across the political spectrum: “More than a few Tea Partiers and young, small-l libertarians, possibly equaling those who could be put on the left.”
The rally was organized by Stop Watching Us and the date was chosen to coincide with the 12th anniversary of the signing of the Patriot Act. According to the organization, “We're holding the largest rally yet against NSA surveillance. We’ll be handing more than a half-million petitions to Congress to remind them that they work for us — and we won’t tolerate mass surveillance any longer.”
The Guardian also reported on the anti-NSA rally and described the scene as festive, and featured some attendees dressed in costumes, plenty of props and music from the indie band Yacht. While Snowden was not in attendance, his presence loomed large, and a statement from him was read by a representative from the American Civil Liberties Union. Video of the Snowden statement can be viewed below.