Citizens across America today will join the Restore The Fourth (or RT4) demonstrations in protest of all forms of unconstitutional surveillance conducted by their government. This is in response to the recent events surrounding Edward Snowden, the former NSA technical contractor responsible for blowing the whistle on the government's secret PRISM and Tempora spying programs. In a societal landscape where grassroots movements are often misconstrued with vague mandates, it's important to be clear on the group's message.
Here's what you should know.
1. Restore The Fourth Is Protesting Unconsitutional Electronic Spying by the NSA
The Restore The Fourth movement was established soon after then leak of confidential NSA documents, outlining the unconstitutional electronic spying of the U.S. Government on American citizens and foreign governments. This secret program, now known as PRISM, was established during the Bush administration with little public oversight. Many argue that the program violates the fourth amendment rights of US citizens. This grass-roots movement has quickly mobilized to encourage discourse and political change within the U.S. legal system.
According to a post on the RT4 press release page, "[t]his movement intends to bring an end to twelve years of Fourth Amendment abuses, and demonstrate the need for a return to the Constitution."
In a recent Reddit AMA, Restore The Fourth's social media coordinator, Douglas Macarthur explained the group's feelings of why they think the program violates the fourth amendment:
2. Restore The Fourth Is Not Connected to Any Other Citizen Group
Recent American protest movements have often been socially associated with fringe groups like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Restore The Fourth makes a priority of defining and spacing itself away from other citizen groups. Reddit user Mike13815, the marketing coordinator of Restore The Fourth, explained the group's scope:
We represent everyone. While Occupy and the Tea party mostly contained specific sides of the political spectrum, we encompass the entire map of it.
With a stance of inclusion and a less specific focus, Restore The Fourth hope to reach and inform as many people as possible.
Although RT4 is not directly connected to any other group, the group stands with the perspective of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and StopWatching.us organizations on the subject.
3. Restore The Fourth Is Not Like Other Citizen Movement Groups
Restore The Fourth members see themselves as being a more organized and refined version of the Tea Party or the Occupy movement. Where those groups tend to appeal to a specific side of the political spectrum, RT4 fancies themselves as a more encompassing and a-political alignment group. They believe that the unconstitutional NSA spying is above political loyalty and affects all U.S. citizens. Douglas Macarthur, RT4's social media coordinator, addressed how they perceive themselves in the current landscape of citizen protest groups:
One way we think we will have more impact is that we are a genuinely non-partisan movement focusing on one critical issue, and that will allow us to build up a broader range of support.
Despite what many within each claimed, Occupy was generally perceived as a left-wing movement and the Tea Party as a right-wing movement. Republicans were never gonna join Occupy and Democrats were never going to join the Tea Party.
[Restore The Fourth], by contrast, isn't here to talk about who should be able to get married or what the tax rate should be or even what countries the US should invade if any. We just think the US government should abide by the constitution - meaning not spying on its citizens without a warrant or probable cause - and even more importantly in my opinion, that federal agencies shouldn't lie to Congress about their ongoing programs, which the NSA has been doing continuously for more than a decade.
4. The Main Goal of Restore The Fourth Is to Spread Awareness
Big political issues often fall to the vein of the flavor of the week. For example, the mainstream media is no longer reporting on the NSA spying scandal, but rather on Edward Snowden, the person responsible for leaking the information on those controversial practices. In response, concerned citizen groups tend to emerge and organized in public demonstrations. Restore The Fourth is a direct byproduct of the NSA spying scandal. Their purpose is to spread the word and stress the importance and implications of the future of personal rights within the United States. The implications of PRISM are staggering, and RT4 is attempting to inform the public of those possible eventualities. The following is taken from RT4's FAQ:
5. Restore The Fourth Aims to Change the Perspective of Social Activism
After the lackluster result of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the societal view of American activism has a relatively negative connotation. This has been the biggest obstacle facing concerned citizen movements since. It's not only hard to get supporters to come out to gatherings (for fear of police intervention or other social deterrents), but it's also less appealing than simply liking or sharing a Facebook post. A goal of the Restore The Fourth group is to fix these connotations and mobilize people to try to incite actual democratic change in a country with a trend of shrinking public privacy rights.
This is what the RT4 social media coordinator, Douglas Macarthur, had to say about the current lack of appeal in American activism.
6. There Will Be Nearly 100 Protests Across America on the Fourth of July
While most of the country is getting their BBQ and fireworks ready for their Fourth of July celebrations, hundreds of Americans will be getting together to protest under the Restore The Fourth banner. There are 97 events currently set to take place across the United States.
For more information or to see if there is a protest near you, check out the "protests" section of the RT4 website.
7. Restore The Fourth Questions the Motives of Edward Snowden
In June 2013, Edward Snowden began leaking government documents and data about the NSA's unconstitutional spying practices to the public. Just before going public as the source of the leak, he fled to Hong Kong, and later to Russia. Edward Snowden is the reason Restore The Fourth exists. Although RT4 thanks him for the service he conducted on behalf of the public, they question his motives. The following quote can be found on the "Beyond the Edward Snowden Question" blog post on the group's website:
...do not trust his motivations for leaking the information, or fleeing to Hong Kong and then to Russia.
Regardless of how they feel about Snowden's motives, RT4 stresses that the public should not focus on his character or motives, rather on the content of the leaks.
8. Restore The Fourth Is Paid for Out of Pocket of Organizers, Public Donations
When it comes to public organizations, people are always interested in finding out about how groups receive their funding. In the case of Restore The Fourth, their budget generates from two sources. The first of which is through donations on the RT4 IndieGoGo page.
The campaign's description explains where the donation funds are going:
1. A coordinated, high concentration blitz of both national and geographically targeted online advertisements (e.g. promoted Facebook posts) promoting the July 4th event. We have means set in place to implement these rapidly. Funding received by PayPal before 3pm on Wednedsay the 3rd will be used on this.
2. The tools to create a long-term Restore the Fourth national organization to keep the fight going after the 4th. Where we have focused on promotion this week, we will turn much of our focus on taking the fight to the nation's courthouses and legislatures in the long-term. We will convene next week with the leaders of the active and successful local organizations to lay out a structure for a permanent organization dedicated to defending the 4th Amendment against unwarranted search of all kinds. Funds received after 3pm on Wednesday the 3rd, and funds received by means other than PayPal, will be used on this.
As for the second source, Mike13815 explains it in simple terms, showing exactly how grass-roots this movement really is:
9. Restore the Fourth Is Also, But Not Primarily, Against The NDAA
The NDAA was arguably the biggest thing to pass through the American government last year. In basic terms, it allows for the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without cause or reason. The passing of this bill mobilized many Americans into social activism. This issue has come to be associated with most issues against the U.S. government. Although it isn't a main concern of the Restore The Fourth movement, the group has take a stance on the issue on their FAQ page.
10. This Is Only the Beginning for Restore The Fourth
Looking past the fourth of July protests, the future looks bright for the Restore The Fourth group. They haven't said a lot publicly yet, but what they have said is exciting and promising. Douglas Macarthur, the RT4 social media coordinator, mentioned a tidbit in the group's Reddit AMA that may lead to greener pastures in the future:
Another way we think we will have more impact is by (hopefully) setting up not just protests but a long-term infrastructure to take part in legal action, political lobbying, and the like. But first we need to promote the issue itself.