Looking Back on the Patriot Act through Activism

Earlier today, our chapter at Mansfield University of Pennsylvania just completed our Restore the Fourth Event, and it definitely turned heads.

While Caitlin Strasser held down the signup table fort, Brandon Valent and I roamed campus decked out as secret agents. We approached passers-by and handed them search warrants, complete with a list of reasons why the searches were to be carried out. Perhaps the best thing about these criteria was the fact that each one was completely permissable under current regulations. Today marks sixteen years since the Patriot Act’s signing by President George W Bush in 2001. Many have forgotten, but today, we reminded them.

“I see you don’t seem to be outwardly showing patriotism today. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to search your bag,” I announced to one, whose face contorted incredulously before he sputtered, “Well, no. No.”

“Good answer,” I said. “We have a meeting today at 4:30 to discuss privacy rights,” and I handed him the warrant with the place and time of our meeting scrawled below the checklist.

We got much of the same from many today, and even a fair amount of people turning tail and running. Coupled with our giant poster that read “Big Government is Watching You,” I think we got our point across.

Our follow-up meeting this afternoon consisted of a custom-built presentation on the history of privacy rights in America, what has endangered the Fourth Amendment, and how to contribute to changing. I referenced Ballotpedia for those who weren’t aware of who represented them in Congress, and overall the meeting went well! Restore the Fourth was a fun event, and I look forward to finishing our semester strong after a tumultuous mid-term season.

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