(KCPW News) Government employees of the new National Security Agency data storage center in Utah will be treated to a clean highway on their commute to work — but it will come in the form of inventive political activism.
A local chapter of protest group Restore the Fourth has adopted a section of Utah State Route 68 that passes near the NSA data center. The group, which is opposed to the intelligence-gathering practices by the NSA, hopes to picket the NSA while they are out picking up litter.
The idea to adopt the highway came as a creative attempt to counter NSA efforts to keep protesters away from the facility. Group organizer Lorina Potter was behind the idea.
“Two weeks after the July Fourth protest, and after we were told we had to leave that vacant lot across from the NSA data center entrance, we got together and had kind of a round table meeting where we were throwing out ideas, and this was one of the ideas that was thrown out there at the meeting. So each of us then took projects we wanted to work on. This one was mine,” Potter said.
Thus far, the NSA has had little to say about the group’s highway adoption. In a statement, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said, “Highway adoptions are not a part of NSA’s federal mission.”
But as Potter says, Restore the Fourth isn’t necessarily looking to get the attention of NSA officials.
“I don’t think that they’ll actually react to us,” she said. “I think that this isn’t really a huge thing to them. However, what it does is it really draws attention to the movement. It draws attention to Restore the Fourth. It brings together people that are from different backgrounds. This doesn’t affect just Republicans and Democrats, this affects everybody.”
UDOT officials have approved — but not yet formally issued — Adopt-A-Highway rights to Restore the Fourth. Potter plans to get started with the cleanup as soon as she has the contract in hand. Officials say that could happen within days.
The NSA previously said the new facility in Bluffdale was supposed to open October first. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that date has been delayed by electrical troubles.
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