Image via snowdenstreet.de
A group of creative activists over in Berlin have set out to bring a DIY political resistance campaign against US spying to the attention of policymakers around the world.
The plan is to introduce a legislative initiative in Germany asking the state to rename Berlin's Behrenstrasse—the street that marks the boundary of the US Embassy—to "Edward Snowden Street" after the now-famous whistleblower. The group launched a website for the project yesterday and are encouraging people in countries around the world to also introduce citizen initiatives to rename important streets or squares after Snowden.
The idea bloomed from German artist Jörg Janzer’s remarkably low-fi protest art against the NSA's dragnet surveillance. This summer Janzer went around Berlin with a stepladder, measuring tape, and some glue, and pasted over street signs with white paper signs that read "Snowden Strasse.” The act of civil disobedience was captured on video and has been making the rounds on YouTube.
Now activists under the Fundamental Rights Party, a political party in Germany to protect and enforce citizens' basic rights under the law, are running with the idea.
While Snowden hides out in Russia to avoid prosecution by the US government, across the pond he’s considered more of a hero than a traitor. He was even nominated for the European Union’s prominent Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is awarded to individuals who stand up for human rights and fight oppression.
Berliners have been especially outspoken against the NSA's operation to monitor and collect data from citizens in Germany and around the world. Thousands of privacy advocates protested the overreaching intelligence programs last month at a rally in Berlin called "Freedom Rather Than Fear.” Now, the Snowden Street campaign comes at a time when Germany is again at the center of the spying controversy.
This weekend the news hit that the US has been listening in on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone calls for the last 10 years, sparking public outrage and a diplomatic headache in Washington. President Obama is working overtime to smooth things over with the chancellor and avoid the scandal escalating into a legal battle. If it does come to that, Germany is considering calling on Snowden as a witness.