While many Ohioans grilled and splashed at the beach to celebrate Independence Day, a few dozen people gathered at Cleveland’s Edgewater Park for another American Tradition: Protest. The target was the National Security Agency.
The group called Restore the Fourth is part of a national, grassroots movement mobilized through social media. Similar rallies were held in San Francisco, New York and other cities around the country.
Mike Neidert of Canal Fulton says the group’s goal is to protect the Fourth Amendment which guards against unreasonable search and seizure.
“My hope is that in the future we’re going to have this national conversation about privacy, about the fourth amendment, and much as we did during the civil rights movement, decide that this is no longer ok. These are people’s rights," says Neidert.
Neidert says ultimately, the group wants Congress to revise the Patriot Act. The law was created following the September 11th terrorist attacks, and critics say it gives law enforcement broad authority to conduct domestic surveillance.
Matt Hammond of West Park was one of the few dozen who learned about the rally through social media site Reddit.
“Showing up today and having our voices heard is one of the ways we can protect ourselves and protect our liberties,” says Hammond.
Hammond says he hopes more people who are frustrated by the NSA’s actions will get involved in their pressuring elected officials to change.
Congress plans more airing of the issue in the coming weeks.