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'Restore the Fourth' protesters march through New York City (photos)

Thousands joined together in New York on Independence Day as part of a series of coordinated marches around the U.S., protesting the NSA's mass surveillance program.

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Zack Whittaker
Zack Whittaker is a former security editor for CNET's sister site ZDNet.
Zack Whittaker
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The "Restore the Fourth" march began in New York's Union Square on July 4, Independence Day, in a bid to protest the National Security Agency's mass surveillance program.
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Some protestors brought "Anonymous" masks to conceal their identities, but many were happy to stand up for their right to protest and march through the streets of Manhattan. Only a handful had their faces covered.
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At the beginning of the meet-up, only a few dozen people were present. Numbers quickly rose once it got nearer to midday.
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Members of the press were present to take photos and interview participants. People of all ages were preparing to march through New York's streets, from the very young to college students to elderly folk.
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One banner read: "This is 2013, not 1984," in reference to George Orwell's famous book about Big Brother and mass surveillance.
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There were many flags on show.
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Some banners were more clear-cut. Some demanded that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper should resign for allegedly lying to Congress, while another insisted on more oversight for the intelligence services.
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This gentleman was out to protest also. He called himself the event's "token middle-aged Republican."
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Many were willing to speak to the media about Fourth Amendment rights being violated by mass surveillance. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable and unwarranted searches and seizures.
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More "Anonymous" masks, but people mostly wore these on the back of their head. Almost no protestors were afraid to display their identity in regard to a matter they believe to be of the utmost importance.
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More people began to turn up toward noon ET. The mood was lighthearted with an edge of seriousness. Everybody here knew what's at stake, and they were willing to have their voices heard.
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There was a substantial police presence around Union Square, though law enforcement officers were relaxed and kept at a distance while the crowd was assembling.
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Many more people arrived past noon ET, holding dozens of placards and meme-related banners. One said: "The NSA has TMI," which stands for "too much information."
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This large blue banner's "Yes We Scan" is a play on words based on President Obama's "Yes We Can" campaign slogan. Though the NSA's domestic and foreign wiretapping and surveillance program began under President Bush, Obama extended the program when he took office.
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One protester takes a moment to adjust his placard.
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Another demonstrator holds a placard. Many others were dressed in costume or disguised as surveillance cameras with "NSA" written on the side.
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The NYPD police presence increased as the crowd began to swell in Union Square.
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Protesters gathered to listen to speakers talk about civil liberties, and some of the talks had an immediately practical bent, covering how to protect one's self from searches and arrest during a demonstration.
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By the beginning of the march, there was upward of 500 people or so in Union Square, ready to march through the streets of New York, through to Federal Hall, where the Bill of Rights was ratified.
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One slogan written in chalk on the sidewalk said: "Who is watching you?" followed by, "Hint: look up," a reference to satellites watching citizens' every movement.
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Many were willing to speak to the press to discuss their views on how they feel about government surveillance. Most were Americans, who in some cases are unaffected by NSA spying, but a few foreign accents were heard throughout the crowd.
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Some held placards that contained memes -- a popular tool among the Internet community.
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The march began at just after 12:30 p.m. ET, walking south toward downtown Manhattan. Police presence remained heavy, but the NYPD did not interfere with the demonstration.
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By the start of the march, hundreds of people were chanting slogans that spread from one side of the protest to the other.
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The weather was scorching hot, and the humidity was excruciating. But hundreds still took to the streets on a U.S. national holiday to declare government snooping as an infringement of their Fourth Amendment rights.
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Police were lined up on NYPD scooters, allowing them to dip in and out of the traffic where necessary. The police were there to maintain peace and to control traffic.
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At times, the march stretched as far back as the eye could see. Ordinary citizens who were going about their everyday business were just walking past as though they had seen it all before.
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The "Yes We Scan" banner held a place at the front of the protest. People on the sidewalks not involved in the march were applauding and whistling for the marchers.
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The march continued for more than an hour, with protesters snaking their way through downtown Manhattan to the Financial District.
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Protesters walk past a church near 11th Street, carrying flags and banners, placards and megaphones.
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Many streets were shut off by the NYPD, despite the march staying on the sidewalks.
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Some people weren't protesting at all, and instead were just recording what was going on with their pair of Google Glass, like this gentleman in the blue shirt and brown shorts.
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With the weather so warm and humid, many took a moment to enjoy the shade before marching on. Bottles of water were being handed out by some of the organizers.
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Stopping for a photo opportunity, the banner carriers stood on a street corner and chanted slogans to the crowds watching.
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More Internet-focused protesters took advantage of the meme culture. This sign shows a popular character from "Family Guy."
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The march continued through to downtown Manhattan past 2 p.m. ET.

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