Jan. 18, 2012 at 3:43 PM ET
By Craig Kanalley, Social Media Editor, NBC News
As the Internet orchestrated a massive protest Wednesday against the SOPA and PIPA bills, with blackouts on Wikipedia and beyond, hundreds of tech enthusiasts took that protest to the streets in New York City.
"We are real. We exist in three dimensions, not just online," David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, said to cheers.
Speakers spoke passionately at the "emergency" New York Tech Meetup outside the offices of Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on 3rd Avenue in New York. Both senators, who are Democrats, support the SOPA/PIPA legislation.
"We built this bridge for the past 15 years," Sara Chipps of Girl Develop It said of the Internet. She asked if anyone has the right to tell people how to use it or who to meet on it. She then added, "If they tear it down, we can build another one."
Jessica Lawrence, managing director of the New York Tech Meetup, said the event was organized just a week ago to speak out against the SOPA and PIPA bills, which she says would stifle innovation, free speech and economic growth.
Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman addressed the senators' stance on the issue directly, pointing up to their offices.
"I like our senators up there, they're good people, but I think they're bought off by Hollywood and big media, and the Internet is made up of people," he said. "The Internet is a network of people."
Many different arguments against SOPA and PIPA were discussed, especially those Lawrence mentioned.
Tim Carr of Free Press put it this way: "Democracy can't work with the internet today if you don't have an internet based on democratic principles."
Occasional "Mic Checks" broke out before and after today's event, a sign that energy from the Occupy movement had also fused into the fight against the SOPA and PIPA bills. That also seems to be happening on Twitter.
Attendees were urged to tweet Gillibrand and Schumer, telling them not to support PIPA. (Two Republican senators, Marco Rubio of Florida and John Cornyn of Texas, withdrew their support of PIPA in light of Wednesday's Internet protests.)
(Msnbc.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and Comcast/NBC Universal. Microsoft publicly opposes SOPA in its current form, while Comcast/NBC Universal is listed as a supporter of SOPA on the House Judiciary Committee website.)