CA Democrats in Marin Co. picketed Nancy Pelosi

for supporting intrusive govt. spying in our personal lives

ARTICLE SOURCE: Marin Independent Journal

It isn't every day that there's a placard-waving political demonstration on the quiet residential streets of wealthy Belvedere. And it's even rarer when the demonstration involves Democrats protesting against fellow Democrats.

But that was the highly unusual scene Saturday afternoon, when some 70 picketers, carrying signs that said things like "Big Brother is watching you" and "One nation under surveillance," gathered up the street from a Belvedere home where a big ticket Democratic Party fundraiser attended by Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, was being hosted by first term congressman, Rep. Jared Huffman..

Organized by progressive Democrats under the banner of the Coalition for Grassroots Progress, the demonstration was to voice displeasure with the liberal congresswoman's defense of the National Security Agency's secret surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet records.

"I'm the former vice chair of the Democratic Party Central Committee here in Marin, but that was back in the day when George Bush was president and the bad guys were all on the other side and they were the ones snooping on us," said speaker Bob Harmon of Mill Valley, secretary and former chair of the Marin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. "I never thought we would come to this."

Harmon was one of several speakers decrying the surveillance program that was recently revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who has been accused of espionage and has been holed up in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport since June 23.

Earlier in the day, Pelosi's description of Snowden as a criminal prompted a chorus of boos from liberals gathered at a conference in San Jose. At the Belvedere protest, demonstrators didn't have the opportunity to confront her in person, but one woman held aloft a placard that said, "I stand with Ed Snowden." and another carried a sign with Snowden's photo alongside Pvt. Bradley Manning and Wikileaks' Julian Assange.

"Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are accused of betraying the country by exposing the government's betrayal of the Constitution," attorney Lawrence Bragman, a two-term mayor of Fairfax, told the crowd gathered beside the road at a hillside intersection overlooking the bay.

One of the organizers of the protest was Norman Solomon, who lost his bid to replace Rep. Lynn Woolsey in the 2012 congressional race won by Huffman, who stopped his car on his way to the reception to take a flier handed by one of the demonstrators.

Asked if it felt odd opposing Pelosi and President Barack Obama, who are usually the targets of right-wing Republicans, Solomon said, "Well, they jumped the fence, not us. It used to be that people thought the first, fourth and fifth amendments were sacrosanct. I'm pleased there is this groundswell. We're just getting started and we're not going to let this subside."

The issue of privacy rights has opened up a rift between progressive Democrats and establishment liberals like Pelosi and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Caroline Banuelos, Northern California vice chair of the California Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus, invited demonstrators to a progressive caucus panel discussion on privacy rights, the NSA and whistle-blowers on July 20 in Orange County during a meeting of the executive board of the state Democratic Party.

"The question I think we need to ask ourselves, in light of these new revelations, is how much longer can we afford to bankrupt ourselves morally and financially in the name of security?" said Banuelos, president of the Sonoma County Latino Democratic Club. "Do we really feel safer by allowing our representatives to take away our civil liberties?"

After the speakers finished, the demonstrators, chanting "First, fourth and fifth amendments, yes," marched down the street past the bayside home of retired software mogul Stephen Silberstein, where couples paid between $2,000 and $34,000 to attend the reception for Pelosi, the guest of honor.

"There is no place I would rather be today," said demonstrator Janine Boneparth of Sausalito, shading herself under a hot pink parasol. "The fact that congresswoman Pelosi has come to my county to raise money for the Democratic Party, in the atmosphere of these recent revelations, is perfect. Usually to express this kind of outrage you have to go to Washington, D.C. But she's right here in our backyard. And this is an opportunity for Marin County to see the face of resistance, that we're not a bunch of tree-hugging hippies. It doesn't matter if you're from Belvedere or Sausalito, we're not going to put up with this."

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