The RSA Conference Protest:Volunteer Experiences

The RSA Conference Protest:Volunteer Experiences

Daniel Roesler

We started handing out badge ribbons this morning at around 7:20am. I picked a spot on the sidewalk just to the south of the keynote entrance (which began at 8am). I had handed out about 100 ribbons in 15 minutes before the building security came out and said that the sidewalk was private property and I needed to go down to the corner.

So, I moved down to the corner of 4th and Howard to join Zaki. We handed out about 400 ribbons until around 8:15am, when another building security guy came up and said that they had permits for that block. I needed to go to work at that point anyway, so we packed up and left.

All in all, I’d say that it was a big success this morning. Zaki and I were wearing suits so we were well received by the attendees walking by. There was one guy who said he worked for the RSA and that that is not what happened and I should be ashamed of myself. I asked for him to give an interview so he could explain more, but he stormed off. Another few people took a small stack of ribbons so they could hand them out inside.

Mitchell Colbert
I had a radically different experience thankfully. I stayed up at Yerba Buena Garden and approached people on their way to or from lunch. I had no run ins with security and gave out over a hundred ribbons in about an hour and a half. I encountered a lot of push backs, many people didn’t even bother to stop but some were real supporters. Only one was very pro-NSA, when I explained what RSA did for the NSA her response was something to the effect of ‘yay for patriots, I feel safer.’ I’ve done enough canvassing to know not to engage people like that.

I had three notable positive interactions. One with a gentleman from Booz Allen Hamilton who wholeheartedly supported the cause but felt he would be risking his job to display a ribbon on his badge. A gentleman from Forrester Research said something very similar but took two ribbons and tweeted a photo on the spot. Another guy mentioned having already given a pro-4th Amendment speech and hoping to do more. I wanted to try to recruit people into future actions but I didn’t know what actions or how to go about it. I should have at least gotten business cards.

I had many more good conversations about the RSA’s complacency with the NSA, more than I can list. I had the opposite experience with ribbons too, for me everyone wanted to Support the 4th, rather than RSA Selling Them Out. I did end up coming across two RSA employees. One asked me if I knew the whole story or if I was just told to hand out ribbons. I responded that I knew as much as any member of the public could hope as I have read a lot on the matter. He said there was more to it and I inquired as to what but he refused to answer saying that there was too much to explain. I encouraged him and the RSA to find time to explain and wished him a good day.

Dennis Gonzales

I was doing very well near the conference building entrance, especially when Code Pink revealed their banner but was asked to move on to the corner sidewalk at 5th street. Security officer said that was a public sidewalk but everywhere else was for RSA. He was a nice about it so I didn’t challenge him. But another security officer was keeping eye out on us on 5th street. I notice the Europeans were more concern about the NSA/RSA than their US counterparts.

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