Anonymous 'Freedom of Information' Rally | Boston Commons | February 19, 2011
Anonymous — the amorphous online conglomerate who like to rumble with Scientologists and 11-year-old camwhores — usually live up to their name. The group (if you can even call it that) very rarely appears in public, and when they do, they typically hide their faces under signature Guy Fawkes masks.
But on a recent Saturday in February, a small group of self-professed Anons — teens with braces and glasses, twentysomethings with stubble hiding under dark hoods — marched maskless through downtown Boston, shouting: "WikiLeaks is under attack! What do we do? Stand up, fight back!"
Only one protester appeared to have brought his Fawkes mask along — pulling it out sporadically then slipping it quickly into his backpack, as if not to distort the image of Anonymous as a group by appearing as a lone soldier.
The meatspace rally was organized through the website whyweprotest.net, by self-professed Anon Gregg Housh, a 34-year-old Boston computer geek. Housh offered himself as a leader for the protesters. "At some point you have to tell them to do all the stuff or they won't," he says. "No matter where I go in life that's how it is."
Getting a bunch of Anons together in public is no small task. "Anonymous is a wild animal," says Amanda Carney, a 25-year-old graphic designer living outside Boston. "[It has] 1000 heads and thousands of different thoughts."
That day, however, it had about a dozen representatives. As a protest, the Boston event was too small to count as a rally — more like an extremely vocal meetup group. It was much smaller than Anonymous's 2008 Scientology protest.
"With Scientology, we had a place, we had a building we could yell at," says Carney. "But with WikiLeaks, there's a lot of people asking the same question: 'What's the goal? Where can we go? Are we just gonna yell on a random corner?' There's only so much you can do."
Anonymous has been busy lately: targeting the enemies of WikiLeaks, the government of Libya, security firm HPGary Federal, and the corporate supporters of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. They started this week off with Twitter promises to leak evidence of financial corruption via bankofamericasuck.com.
The torrent of media attention and government ire that their actions have garnered has put some international Anons in jail, and FBI raids in February seized US computers as evidence for consideration by a California grand jury. But these local Anons don't care. Planning for a "Boston Siege of the Federal Reserve" is in the works to begin March 28 at 1 pm — and last as long as they can make it.
"The FBI 4chan Party Van," says Carney, with a smile. "It's always fun till it's in your driveway."