Last week, I took a long weekend and drove down to Florida with my son to meet my new niece, and visit with my mom and sister. While I was there, I saw something that got me pretty riled up.

My mom and sister live in the small island town of Fernandina Beach. It has a population of about 12,500 people. As, I was driving to the grocery, a Fernandina Beach Police Department vehicle went zooming past. And what do I see perched on the roof?

Automatic licence plate reader cameras.

Of course, this raises a glaring question: Why in the world do cops in a town of less than 13,000 people need ALPRs?

And that leads to even more questions. How did this small-town police department pay for this sophisticated technology? What policies do they have in place governing their use? How long do they keep the data? Do they share it with the feds? Did the city council approve the ALPRs?

This is the perfect opportunity for some local activism.

It was similar to the experience I recently had here in my hometown when the city installed surveillance cameras at a park in my neighborhood. It motivated me to get involved in some grassroots activism right here in Lexington, Ky., fighting the surveillance state.

Now I’m seeing local activism opportunities everywhere.

I can’t organize it in Fernandina Beach. But somebody could. And somebody should.

For many years, I was the guy who was pretty much only interested in who the next president was going to be. But I have discovered that the real action is at the state and local level. That’s where we can make a difference.

Doing presidential politics is pretty easy. You pick a guy, put up a sign, post on Facebook and then go vote. Local activism is hard. Most people have no idea where to even start. So they never do.

I’m trying to blaze a trail. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what to do either. It’s a learn as you go process.

I’ve started  a podcast hosted here at TAC chronicling my my foray into local activism. You can listen to episode 1 and 2 HERE.

Mike Maharrey

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