Protesters oppose FCC net neutrality repeal in Denver

Audrey Weiss

DENVER — Protesters gathered in Denver’s Skyline Park Saturday in opposition of the Federal Communication Commisions’ plan to repeal net neutrality. 

Civil rights attorney and state senate candidate Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, speaks to community members attending the Net Neutrality protest organized by Common Cause in Denver's Skyline Park Saturday afternoon. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)
Civil rights attorney and state senate candidate Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, speaks to community members attending the Net Neutrality protest organized by Common Cause in Denver’s Skyline Park Saturday afternoon. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)

In February 2015, the Barack Obama Administration instated net neutrality, but with President Donald Trump in office, net neutrality is at risk of termination, according to civil rights attorney and state senate candidate Alan Kennedy-Shaffer.

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“President Trump and Trump-appointed FCC chairman Ajit Pai … want to take us back to the dark ages of intellectual thought, so that a few corporations can control what we read, what we say, what we think,” Shaffer said during the protest.

With his background as an educator, Shaffer emphasized the necessity of internet access within education and spoke widely on student reliance on open access to credible sources of information.

“Today, Dec. 9, is the internet’s Independence Day,” Shaffer said. “So, I say keep the internet free.”

Shakeel Dalal, scientist and first generation immigrant of the United States, discussed the first amendment and its relevance to his family’s U.S. citizenship.

Shakeel Dalal speaks to the roughly 100 community members attending the Net Neutrality protest organized by Common Cause in Denver's Skyline Park Saturday afternoon. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)
Shakeel Dalal speaks to the roughly 100 community members attending the Net Neutrality protest organized by Common Cause in Denver’s Skyline Park Saturday afternoon. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)

“There are Americans born all over the world, Dalal said. “Sometimes it just takes us awhile to come home.”

Dalal referenced the intentions of the government in establishing the First Amendment, emphasizing their understanding of communication in our democracy.

Jesse Krisher, a volunteer at the event, reiterated Dalal’s point, stressing the loss of balance between large and small corporations and how this could impact our democracy.

Krisher disagreed with the argument that repealing net neutrality will change little of the internet access already established.

“If you follow the money, the chairman of the FCC is a former Verizon lawyer,”  Krisher said. “They may argue that everything would be the same, but it’s a rule that’s being removed, so how will we stop abuse if there is no rule?”

Randy Chase, a Denver activist and one of the protest coordinators, said the greatest impact of the net neutrality repeal would be on rural areas, specifically those who have only one internet service provider in the area.

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Randy Chase, a volunteer with Common Cause, hands out informational pamphlets to those in attendance of the Net Neutrality protest hosted by Common Cause in Denver's Skyline Park Saturday afternoon. This protest comes just days before the FCC is set to vote on Net Neutrality. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)
Randy Chase, a Denver activist and one of the protest coordinators, hands out informational pamphlets to those in attendance of the Net Neutrality protest hosted by Common Cause in Denver’s Skyline Park Saturday afternoon. This protest comes just days before the FCC is set to vote on Net Neutrality. (Davis Bonner | Collegian)

Protestors Jami Schamel and Ryan Whitmore said that as kids born in the digital age, much of their lives were spent online.

Schmael spoke on the lack of understanding of net neutrality and her attempt to spread information to as many as people as possible.

“Nothing is going to be achieved if everyone stays quiet,” Schmael said.

Whitmore compared the internet to a mycelian network and the amount of knowledge available through the internet that could be at risk with the reform of net neutrality.

Common Cause Advocacy and Media Manager Caroline Fry and Zach Amdurer, a community activist, said that net neutrality is not spoken of as oft as necessary, especially with the FCC’s vote happening Dec. 13.

“I think this is a good start to getting grassroots support for really important issues of our time,” Amdurer said. “It’s really an issue that unites everybody. It’s not just one party, it’s the entire American people that are affected.”

Collegian reporter Audrey Weiss can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @Audkward.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the protest was oranized by Common Cause. It was organized by a planning committee that was not affiliated with any organization, candidate or party. A previous version of this article also incorrectly identified Randy Chase as a Common Cause volunteer and Zach Amdurer as a Common Cause employee. This article has been updated to reflect the correct information