Thousands of people gathered in Washington, DC to take part in the “Stop Watching Us” rally, deemed as possibly the largest ever protest against mass surveillance in U.S. history. The rally-protest was organized by a coalition of mostly left-wing organizations including the ACLU.
The event began a few blocks away from the Capitol. David Segal of Demand Progress, an internet activist group, kicked off the event.
"They think an open government means our information is open for the taking,” he told the crowd. The crowd then marched to the Capitol Reflecting Pool. "Hey hey, ho ho, mass surveillance has got to go" was one of the slogans sung along the way.
Thomas Drake, the former NSA official who blew the whistle on government surveillance after 9/11, was one of the participants.
He spoke to reporters about the recent revelations that the U.S. government tapped the phone of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
"For what? Why would you violate her rights? Because, what, she might know something about terrorism?" he said. "What is that all about? They're an ally! They're partnered with us. I mean there are threats to the international order and stability. Why would you breach the trust of the chancellor of Germany?"
The big star of the day, despite his absence, was Edward Snowden. “Thank you, Edward Snowden" was one of the more signs carried by the crowd. A statement by Snowden was read to the crowd. "This isn't about red or blue party lines, and it definitely isn't about terrorism," Snowden wrote. "It's about being able to live in a free and open society."