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Group to protest NSA data facility by removing roadside trash

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9 2013 5:14 p.m. MDT

NSA buildings near Camp Williams, Thursday, June 6, 2013.
 (Ravell Call, Deseret News) NSA buildings near Camp Williams, Thursday, June 6, 2013. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

BLUFFDALE — A group that opposes the National Security Agency and its policies has come up with an unusual way to spread its message — removing roadside garbage near the Utah Data Center.

Restore the Fourth, in an agreement with the Utah Department of Transportation, has adopted a 2-mile stretch of Redwood Road near the NSA facility.

Under the deal, the group will remove trash from the side of the road at least three times per year for the next two years.

Restore the Fourth member Lorina Potter admits the group has an additional motive.

“At the same time, we will be protesting,” Potter said. “We’ll be drawing attention to the fact that we’re out there.”

Potter hatched the idea, and UDOT has given approval, though state transportation officials are removing themselves from the politics.

“As long as they’re following safety protocols and they’re actually out there cleaning up the garbage and the trash from our roads, that’s what we care about,” UDOT spokesman John Gleason said.

Also part of the agreement are Adopt-a-Highway signs in the area showing Restore the Fourth’s name.

Potter said the group plans to take advantage of its prime cleanup location much more than the required three annual visits. She was calling on volunteers who share her belief in the cause to join. The first cleanup event is being planned for Oct. 26.

“This is just another way to show people that we’re out there, we’re working for this. We aren’t just screaming to scream. We’re screaming because this is a real threat to our society,” Potter said. “We have to push back.”

Restore the Fourth, which stands for Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, has been responsible for previous anti-NSA demonstrations in Utah and across the country.

The $1.5 million, 1 million-square-foot Utah Data Center will be an operational hub for far-reaching security efforts to collect, process and store huge amounts of digital information from Americans’ online activities. It was scheduled to open next month.

The NSA confirmed Monday the facility experienced electrical failures during routine testing by the Army Corps of Engineers at it prepared to begin operations.

Potter said she hopes to make a difference for the residents and farmers who live in the area.

“Those farms deserve absolutely to have a road next to them that is clean,” she said, “but at the same time, we are doing something good.”

Email: aadams@deseretnews.com

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