Hundreds of protesters turned out for the march, many carrying signs that bore slogans like "Thank You, Edward Snowden," "Stop Mass Spying" and "Unplug Big Brother." Although the Capitol Police were asked, they declined to give an estimate on attendance; the protest organizers said over 2000 protesters were there.
A statement from Snowden, which was provided to American Civil Liberties Union, was read: "We’ve learned that the U.S. intelligence community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance. Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong."
The protest was a bipartisan effort, of sorts: Tea Party members showed up alongside left-wing privacy advocates, with everyone in agreement that the government is unlawfully spying on both American citizens and the rest of the world.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) had introduced a bill of his own attempting to limit the NSA's info-grabbing programs, but his effort was defeated by a seven-vote margin. "We’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to pass something to rein in the NSA," he said of the defeat.
The rally was scheduled to happen on the 12th anniversary of the PATRIOT Act, which expanded the United States' capacity to wage a war on terrorism. Additionally, the recent Snowden leak involving German Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to be adding to the growing wildfire.
"This isn’t a partisan issue. This is for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, conservatives and liberals, everyone in between," Amash added. A new bill, the U.S.A. Freedom Act authored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and supported by Amash, may stand a better chance on the floor.[Image via ThankYouSnowden.org]