Members and supporters of hacktivist collective Anonymous marked Guy Fawkes Day with a global ‘Million Mask March’ designed to protest against government corruption, corporate malfeasance and the expanding surveillance state.
The global action on November 5 is Anonymous’ annual commemoration of Guy Fawkes Day, a British holiday celebrated with fireworks and bonfires. Fawkes is remembered today as the most prominent member of the failed Gunpowder Plot, a 1605 attempt to assassinate King James I of England. The notorious plotter, and his facial likeness, in particular, has become a symbol for the fight against tyranny for the Anonymous hacking collective.
Event organizers used social media to plan rallies and marches at more than 450 locations around the world. Hundreds of people turned out in each New York City, Washington DC, Los Angeles, and other US cities.
A small number of protesters were arrested in Washington, the first coming before 10:00 am local time when a marchers stepped off the sidewalk and into the street. A focal point of the DC protest was the ongoing, invasive surveillance methods employed by the National Security Agency as well as lingering American inequality.
The Washington rally began with a meet-up near the Washington Monument before marching up the street and dispersed after spending some time at the White House.
“We want President Obama to hear that five years after the financial crisis – the banks being bailed out – we’re still suffering, people are still suffering, we’re drowning in debt,” one participant told RT from near the White House.
“We live in a country that is fundamentally unfair, we no longer have the rule of law,” he continued. “From the NSA, to Edward Snowden, to Chelsea Manning, all over the world, people are speaking out, whistleblowers are speaking out, regular people are speaking out and saying enough is enough. We want justice and we want it now.”
Thousands showed up for a rally in London’s Trafalgar Square, where supporters of Anonymous have traditionally congregated in huge numbers on past Guy Fawkes Days. Marchers could be heard chanting “Here we come, Tory scum” as they made their way through the city and toward Parliament.
RT Correspondent Sara Firth reported that 11 people were arrested throughout the day in London, where demonstrators, joined by actor and comedian Russell Brand, eventually made their way to Buckingham Palace before splintering into smaller groups.
On the website for London’s OpVendetta event, an administrator wrote, “Anonymous have changed the rules by turning this morality of petition into more of a festival of ideas and new age discussion that has formed the political views of the youth of today. Anonymous understand now that we have filled the void in the protest world that others have failed Anonymous have managed to hold on to the system of having no system which allows everyone’s beliefs to join the great debate.”
“To remind this world what it has forgotten, that fairness, justice and freedom are more than just words,” is the stated aim, according to the gathering’s Facebook page.
Often described in the media as a loose-knit collective, Anonymous was propelled to public prominence over the last years for a series of politically-motivated cyber-attacks on businesses and government institutions. Groups calling themselves by that name targeted entertainment industry, financial institutions, websites of governments from Latin America to Asia and international organizations.
The agenda of those behind Tuesday’s protests was wide-ranging. The movement is said to be growing in strength as global citizens report greater dissatisfaction with their local governments and because of the perception that corporations have a stranglehold on international politics.
The deeply unpopular Monstano corporation, which champions the benefits of genetically modified food, was among the favorite targets of those who were demonstrating Tuesday.
“We are not slowing down, we are speeding up,” John Anthony Fairhurst, one of the organizers of the Million Mask March in Washington, DC, told RT. “These people all over the world need some serious change.”
As a worldwide movement, Anonymous-at-large has in the past rallied in support of the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks and Army soldier-turned-whistleblower Chelsea Manning. They supported Arab Spring anti-dictatorship protesters in the Middle East as well as the Occupy Wall Street movement, which started in New York City two years ago, but has since spread across the world as a means of addressing the overt, allegedly corrupt ties between corporations and the authorities.
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