About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view UTHreporting's profile
    Posted August 27, 2013 by
    Niceville, Florida

    More from UTHreporting

    "Dismantled" Anonymous and the Million Mask March


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     UTHreporting got in touch with members of Anonymous after hearing about their march in November. 'I learned a lot about their movement as far as their inner workings and how an organization with no central leadership can function as effectively as they do. I had minor contact when I wrote an article on staying safe as a photographer at a protest a few months ago. Since then we've been on relatively cordial terms.'
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    Last month, Austin P. Berglas, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the FBI in New York told the Huffington Post that the FBI has effectively dismantled the hacktivist collective Anonymous saying “they’re still yacking on twitter and posting things,” implying that, at least for the time being, the group was in disarray. So it may come as a shock to find out that at the time of this statement Anonymous was in the midst of planning their largest operation to date, and they’re doing so publically.

    On November 5th Anonymous members are planning on marching in the capitals of over twenty nations simultaneously. The events are primarily being organized through Facebook and not on some obscure IRC channel, making it difficult to believe that the FBI was unaware of such a substantial change in strategy. In the past, Anonymous has largely confined itself to cyberspace. They’re known for stealing the personal information of Federal employees and releasing the details to the public, defacing government websites, or simply blocking access to them. In the days after the declaration of victory by the FBI, Anonymous released a “document dump” reported to be personal information of Federal Reserve employees. Now Anonymous appears ready to take the battle out of cyberspace and on to the streets of capitals around the world. Washington, London, Paris, Perth, Sofia, Hong Kong, Ottawa, Dublin, as well as many other cities all have active pages dedicated to preparation for the November 5th event.

    Contrary to many operations in the past, some participants are not even attempting to conceal their identities. John Fairhurst is the organizer of the Washington, DC march and is certainly not trying to remain hidden. Fairhurst is quick to point out that that he isn’t a leader within Anonymous, stating that the organization doesn’t have leaders. One member, who chose to remain anonymous, summarized the leaderless organization as “a street with all of the members lined up on each side of the street. Somebody gets an idea, and that becomes a car in our little story. As the idea car drives down the road, the people that agree with it hop in and ride that idea to its destination. This car just happens to be driving to Washington.” Fairhurst stressed that the event will be “peaceful and nonviolent," while adding that “the Million Mask March is not only a protest showing our strength in numbers, it is as well the issuance of a warning to the powers that be.” He also went on to say that the event will be kid friendly and that no drugs or alcohol will be permitted.

    Michael Pendleton is not planning on taking a figurative car to Washington. Pendleton is leaving August 28th from Tallahassee on foot. His plan is to walk the 850 miles to Washington spreading awareness of the march along the way. Commenting on why he was engaging in the March, he said “hopefully we wake some people up and don't get arrested. I dang sure am not walking 850 miles to be arrested.” Pendleton, a devout Christian, says he “will stand with everyone and anyone to say we have the right to think, feel, and be different.”

    The major shift in strategy and tactics being employed by Anonymous is seen by some within the group as the natural progression of a strengthening movement. “When we didn’t have a lot of support, we had to stay in the shadows on the web. Now, people all over the world are waking up to the message, so we can go to the nation’s capital and not be worried about the FBI beating us up or throwing us in jail for no reason other than being Anonymous.” said a man that claimed his name was Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes is a British historical figure who serves as a mascot to the Anonymous movement. The iconic Anonymous mask is actually a Guy Fawkes mask. The messages of Anonymous are many but revolve mainly around civil and human rights.

    The DC page for “The Million Mask March” has 8,668 people that have confirmed they will be attending with another 89,000 or so invited at the time of writing. Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Atlanta, Austin, Hartford, Tucson, Cincinnati, and St. Louis are some of the other American cities where Anonymous plans to march that day.
    Add your Story Add your Story