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Protests against the NSA spring up across U.S.

Heather Kelly, CNN
"Restore the Fourth" protesters in San Francisco on Thursday call for an end to government surveillance programs.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Protesters in cities across the United States called for an end to NSA surveillance programs
  • They are calling their movement "Restore the Fourth"
  • They say Internet and phone monitoring violates the Fourth Amendment

(CNN) -- Anti-NSA protesters took to the streets in cities across the United States on Thursday, using the Independence Day holiday to call attention to recent disclosures about the U.S. government's telephone and Internet surveillance programs.

The movement, called "Restore the Fourth," says the government programs such as Prism violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures without warrants. Specifically, it wants the National Security Agency's surveillance programs shut down.

"It's important that we speak up and let our elected officials know that our rights are being violated," said Kyle Smeallie, a protester in San Francisco.

Online, popular websites such as Reddit showed support for the protesters by embedding Restore the Fourth images emblazoned with a hashtag.

U.S. intelligence agencies operated a broad data-mining program that extracted e-mail, photos and other private communications from some of the biggest Internet companies, The Guardian and The Washington Post reported on Thursday, June 6. U.S. intelligence agencies operated a broad data-mining program that extracted e-mail, photos and other private communications from some of the biggest Internet companies, The Guardian and The Washington Post reported on Thursday, June 6.
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The grassroots, nonpartisan movement started a month ago when a group of people met on Reddit and decided to take action.

"It is something a lot of people care about. We're trying to get that narrative out there," said Sam Oslos, 23, one of the protest organizers.

In the month following Edward Snowden's leaks about U.S. government programs collecting information from phone and Internet companies, some U.S. citizens seemed unsurprised and resigned to being monitored. According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center last month, 56% of Americans think the collection of telephone metadata is acceptable.

The loosely coordinated activist group helped organize protests in more than 80 U.S. cities using online message boards and Twitter. There were demonstrations in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago and Los Angeles. In Utah, protesters gathered near the new $1.5 billion NSA data center, which is scheduled to open later this year.

The movement even spread overseas, where protesters showed up in front of the U.S. Consulate in Munich, Germany, donning Edward Snowden masks.

In San Francisco, protesters walked from City Hall to the Embarcadero with signs that read "Legalize the U.S. Constitution" and "I refuse to sacrifice my liberty for security." Police estimated there were at least 250 people protesting, but said the group was growing larger throughout the day.

"The Fourth Amendment is there to protect us, but there comes a time when we have to step in and protect it," Parker Higgins, an activist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said to the crowd. He later told CNN.com that getting people on the street was a way to let officials know that there are people who care about their privacy.

Dawn Ligiter was at the San Francisco protests with her husband and two dogs.

"We're expecting our first child and we want him to have the same rights under the constitution that we grew up with," she said.

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