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Tell HN: My first protest
50 points by joshdotsmith on July 4, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 1 comment
I'm 27 years old and I've never really been bothered to protest before. Sure, I've volunteered. I've participated in political campaigns. I've signed petitions and written my Congressmen. I've voted. But nothing had ever felt quite so bad to me that I needed to march. Other people would take care of that, as they always have, and the system would fix itself.

Something's changed. A little over a year ago today I enlisted in the Army National Guard. In a week I head to SD for "Phase 1" of Officer Candidate School. (I don't purport to represent the military).

Perhaps the reality of putting my life on the line for our country has made me take political change more personally. Of course, the past decades' worth of restrictions on our freedoms hasn't helped. I've seen many comparisons here between warrantless spying and past oppressions, or with other states' far more terrible security apparatuses. "It's really not that bad." "It could be worse." These all feel like false equivalencies.

We, of all people, should recognize the staggering, unpredictable impact that technology will have on our lives in just the coming decade alone. Given what we know about the accelerating pace of technology, are you really comfortable giving the government – any government – free reign over all your data? Do you want to set that precedent?

I'm no longer convinced that the system will self-correct. I see things coming to pass that make me worry for our collective future. I worry that if I don't step up and say something, these worries will be completely brushed aside.

Today I march. And I feel like it's the best thing I've done since I took my oath of enlistment.

Join me: http://www.restorethefourth.net/protests/

I was going to open a thread this evening to ask HN who went to the Restore the Fourth protests today, but instead I will ask for your observations of the protests here. I'd love to hear from anyone who attended a protest.

Between 6:00pm and 7:00pm, my family was in Minneapolis for the Minneapolis Restore the Fourth protest. The total attendance during that hour was greater than 100, but definitely less than 200. I was expecting many more people, and was surprised at how unoccupied the Government Center plaza was when I arrived. One TV news crew was there, from the local ABC affiliate station, and the reporter interviewed several different protest participants, and the camera operator filmed a lot of the scene. Our hand-printed "We support the Bill of Rights" poster was surely picked up by the TV camera, but may not have been on air. It was a long time before I noticed any police presence at all. The plaza is overlooked by an upper balcony, reachable from outside open-air stairways, and I noticed (eventually) two police officers there. Everyone seemed very calm, and my ten-year-old daughter, who had done the most work in making the sign, was rather bored by the whole thing.

The weather was gorgeous all over Minnesota today. Outdoor activities were very popular, and later in the evening my daughter and I saw celebratory fireworks for Independence Day in one town, while my sixteen-year-old son saw them in another. Where I saw the fireworks, there was a jazz band playing in an outdoor bandshell as the sun went down, and then just before the fireworks, the lead singer of the band sang the national anthem, and just about all of the thousands of people there stood, cheering at the end of the anthem, "the land of the free, and the home of the brave." Americans here are still in a very celebratory mood about freedom, and happy to enjoy public celebrations with thousands of their fellow Americans in public places.

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