On the 12th anniversary of the Patriot Act, and in the midst of the ongoing Edward Snowden fiasco, the group Stop Watching Us is organizing a march and rally against mass surveillance in Washington D.C. on October 26. The group has gathered more than a half million signatures in a letter to Congress, requesting amendments to the Patriot Act, the creation of special committees to investigate National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance, and accountability for those legislators accused of complicity in NSA’s data collection practices. The march will begin at Union Station and culminate at Union Square in front of the Capitol Reflecting Pool.
As Colorlines has previously reported, NSA surveillance has particular consequences for people of color, who are prolific users of online media sites that are targeted by the NSA’s Prism program. Immigrants are also disproportionately targeted by NSA’s data collection as they frequently make international phone calls that can be recorded and stored without evidence of wrongdoing. And FBI counterintelligence programs are known to target Muslim communities under the guise of anti-terrorism efforts.
Amalia Deloney, associate director of the Center for Media Justice, says people of color are underrepresented within the NSA surveillance debate. “Right now the vast majority of groups involved are white progressives or white civil libertarians. Yet absent from this are the voices and organizations of [people of color] who have a legacy of experience and trauma,” she says.
And Joe Torres, senior external affairs director of Free Press, says the rally is intended to call more attention to what the NSA is collecting and how.
“We need to connect this more to people of color. Government surveillance is so connected to our communities, be it stop-and-frisk, surveillance of the Muslim community in New York, or more surveillance and militarization of the border. These are all examples of how our communities are targeted and surveilled, which leads to mass incarceration,” he says. “We need to be concerned about spying, because we don’t know what it’s being used for. It’s not unreasonable to think it could be used to target communities of color.”