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A Message on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement


October 3, 2014
Edward Snowden / The Free Speech Movement Archives

On October 1, Free Speech day in California, Edward Snowden -- a former National Security Agency subcontractor-turned-whistleblower -- sent the following message to veterans of Berkeley's Free Speech Movement. It was read aloud on the Savio Steps as part of a rally commemorating the 50th anniversary of the day students sat down around a police car to protest the arrest of a political activist who was tabling for the Congress of Racial Equality.

Special to Environmentalists Against War



On October 1, Free Speech day in California, Edward Snowden -- a former National Security Agency subcontractor-turned-whistleblower -- sent the following message to veterans of Berkeley's Free Speech Movement. It was read aloud on the Savio Steps as part of a rally commemorating the 50th anniversary of the day students sat down around a police car to protest the arrest of a political activist who was tabling for the Congress of Racial Equality.

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today, as we recognize the 50th Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement. Berkeley's unparalleled traditions of student activism and community engagement have been both a challenge and in inspiration to human rights movements worldwide.

They compel us to imagine the world that we want to live in and to stand up for it -- and they show us that with vision and persistence, we can change the world. I am honored to join with you today to celebrate that tradition.

The threats to free expression in the United States and around the world today are vast and complex. In order to better understand and combat these new threats, we must look back on the great victories of the Free Speech Movement and its part in the people's movements that created checks on government power at that time.

Many of these checks, unfortunately, have now been almost completely eroded. The extraordinary mass surveillance and censorship capabilities and unprecedented government secrecy require us, once again, to take urgent action to preserve our free societies.

This is the challenge of our generation.

While new technologies have introduced extraordinary opportunities for free expression and communication around the globe, governments have, in secret, worked against these forces to reengineer these new capabilities as tools of mass surveillance and oppression.

Surveillance, without regard to the rule of law or our basic human dignity, creates societies that fear free expression and dissent, the very values that have made America strong. When we know we're being watched, we impose restraints on our behavior - even clearly innocent activities -- just as surely as if we were ordered to do so.

On this campus in 1964, Mario Savio said, "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part." Over the past fifteen months, people around the world have spoken out and continue to stand up against the forces of censorship and surveillance. Together, we will restore the public's seat at the table of government.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.



FREE SPEECH #FSM50
Tiffany Shlain & The Moxie Institute Films

FREE SPEECH #FSM50 is the new 2 min Cloud Film created by the team at Let it Ripple: Mobile Films for Global Change in partnership with UC Berkeley in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Free Speech Movement and first sit-in at Sproul Hall on the UC Berkeley campus in 1964.

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