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LOUISVILLE, KY (WDRB) -- Dozens of protesters rallied outside Metro Hall in Louisville calling for an end to the National Security Agency's surveillance program that monitors millions of American phone calls and emails.
The "Restore the Fourth" rallies, which began to gain popularity on websites like Reddit, popped up in dozens of American cities Thursday. The phrase carries a double meaning - as protesters called for restoring the Constitution's Fourth Amendment that protects American's privacy on the Fourth of July - a day Americans celebrate the country's independence.
Calling for an end to what some have called "domestic spying" local organizer James Miller called the event "non-partisan" saying it drew Republicans, Democrats, Green party members, libertarians and former Occupy supporters.
"I feel like for a lot of people this is one of the straws that broke the camel's back," Miller said. "We would like to see a full investigation of the extent of the NSA surveillance and we would like for some government officials to be held accountable for these violations of the Constitution.
"People are sort of tired of this ongoing erosion of our constitutional rights. It didn't start with President Obama, I don't even think it started with President George W. Bush. It's been going on for a long time," he said.
No one from the federal government was here to rebuke their statements, or their jokes encouraging people to sign up for an email list: "which will then promptly be read and stored on the NSA's servers, which is why we are here," said Miller.
"I hope it sends a message to elected officials that we do care about privacy," said Erik Snyder of Louisville, who was among the dozens who braved the rainy holiday to voice their concerns.
Saying privacy is our right, one man held a placard with a sign that read "I miss freedom."
"It seems like any right can be dismissed in ... in the chase of terrorism," Snyder said.
President Barack Obama has said the NSA's surveillance program looks only at "meta-data" or large sampling hoping to find connections or links between domestic terrorists and those overseas. He said that the program is meant to weed out terrorism, but that hasn't stopped many from criticizing the program as "domestic spying."
Former President George W. Bush told CNN this week he thinks the Obama administration "will handle" the situation adding that he put the program in place "to protect the country," he told the cable news outlet.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul taped a message in support of the "Restore the Fourth" rallies, which was later posted on YouTube and reportedly played at a gathering in Washington D.C., according to the Hill.