Aaron Swartz Public Memorial Service at Cooper Union

Demand Justice for Aaron Swartz

Demand Justice for Aaron Swartz

Aaron did not commit suicide, but was killed by the government. Someone who made the world a better place was pushed to his death by the government. — Robert Swartz, father of Aaron Swartz

Yesterday (Saturday) hundreds attended the memorial in New York for internet activist Aaron Swartz who was found hanged, driven to his death by a vindictive Public Prosecutor and US Department of Justice.

Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman:

He was so scared and so frustrated and so desperate and, more than anything else, just so weary. I think he just couldn’t take it another day. In the end, he couldn’t allow (prosecutors) to control him, either.

Doc Searls:

When we’re young we think our cause is a sprint, and when we’re middle-aged we thing is it’s a marathon. But when we’re old we think it’s a relay race. And Aaron was the one you wanted to hand it off to.

Roy Singham, a close collaborator with Aaron Swartz who founded the Freedom to Connect initiative:

This was not suicide. It was murder by intimidation, bullying and torment. We must demand accountability for those who tormented Aaron. He was, in my humble opinion, one of the true extraordinary revolutionaries that this country has produced.

Grandson of activist folk singer Pete Seeger, Kitama Jackson, read a note from his grandfather:

These modern times are filled with such contradictions that experts are not agreed on what the future of the human race will be. But we can agree today that it was a tragedy for this brilliant young man to be so threatened that he hanged himself.

The Public Prosecutor who drove Aaron Swartz to his death should be driven out of public office, she is not fit to hold any public office, not even that of public rat catcher. Nor is she fit to practice law, the Bar Association should strip her of her licence to practice law.

Contrast Aaron Swartz with facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Aaron Swartz worked for the common good, was an advocate of an open internet, believed public information should be made public. Mark Zuckerberg works for his own private greed, violates personal privacy for monetary gain, is trying to turn an open internet into a privately controlled intranet.

Demand Progress, founded by Aaron Swartz, is asking you to sign their petition and demand justice for Aaron Swartz. Their demands, our demands will make a fitting memorial, that his early death was not for nothing.

Representative Zoe Lofgren has introduced what’s been named “Aaron’s Law.” It would fix a key part of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which is one of the statutes under which Aaron was indicted. We need to pass Aaron’s Law AND further amend the CFAA.

The CFAA makes violations of a website’s terms of service agreement or user agreement — that fine print you never read before you check the box next to it — a FELONY, potentially punishable by many years in prison. That’s how over-broad this dangerous statute is, and one way it lets showboating prosecutors file charges against people who’ve done nothing wrong.

Aaron’s Law would decriminalize violating these agreements: They’re essentially contracts, and as with other contracts, disputes about them should be settled in civil courts rather than in out of control criminal trials under threat of decades of prison time. As currently written, Aaron’s Law alone wouldn’t have saved Aaron — there is still more to do to make sure that victimless computer activities are not charged as felonies — but this is a solid start that we can pass now and it’s a law he wanted to change. Then we’ll keep pushing forward.

Additionally, Congressman Darrell Issa — who controls the powerful Oversight Committee — has been asked to open an investigation into prosecutorial misconduct in Aaron’s case. Amazingly, he’s already responded and is dispatching a staffer to investigate the US. Attorney who was pressing charges against Aaron.

We want the inquiry to proceed, and to be broadened to include a more thorough investigation into rampant over-prosecution of alleged crimes with no victims — as in the case of what Aaron was accused of. And we want those who abused their power to be held to account.

We loved Aaron — so many people loved Aaron — and his death is tragic. We and others who were close to him are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, and the calls for justice. Thank you for joining us in that fight.

Please ensure this is widely shared. Please do not let the death of Aaron Swartz be for nothing.

Yesterday was also Internet Freedom Day, the first anniversary of the killing dead of Sopa. Aaron Swartz was instrumental in leading the fight against Sopa, which made him a target and led to him paying the ultimate price, his life.

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