THE ‘HACKTIVIST’ COLLECTIVE Anonymous has followed through on its promise to release the identities of hundreds of members and supporters of the extremist, racist Ku Klux Klan.
The 11-month operation, run by the activists @AnonCopWatch and @ThatsRacistAF2, culminated in the posting of 375 names, aliases or online identities associated with the KKK and affiliated neo-nazi groups.
Although short of the 1,000 names predicted by @Operation_KKK a fortnight ago, the list includes some one-time candidates for political office, and former law enforcement agents.
Those behind the dump also claimed to have withheld certain names, pending “further evaluation.”
The list also names 23 local and regional affiliates of the notoriously secretive KKK, stretching across 25 US states, mainly throughout the South, but also in places such as New York, Illinois and New Jersey.
In a statement released along with the list, its authors said they had used “human intelligence,” “digital espionage,” social engineering (posing as KKK members to elicit admissions by others), and publicly available information.
We understand this initiative is extremely controversial and we know we will face much criticism for this operation and our work will be heavily scrutinized.
We consider this data dump as a form of resistance against the violence and intimidation tactics leveraged against the public by various members of Ku Klux Klan groups throughout history.
On Sunday, several dozen names and phone numbers were released by an individual associated with the Twitter account @sgtbilko420 which, it was claimed, belonged to KKK members.
The list included the names of several high-profile US Senators, as well as mayors and other prominent figures, and has been largely discredited.
Many of those named have publicly and angrily denied any associated with the extremist movement, and denounced the release.
@Operation_KKK, the Anonymous-affiliated operation which conducted tonight’s dump, also distanced itself from Sunday’s release.
Anonymous began its actions against the Klan on 16 November last year after members of the group threatened violence against peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
The town has become a symbol for racial tensions in America since the police shooting of an unarmed 18-year-old black man, Michael Brown, in August 2014.
In its statement tonight, Anonymous insisted the dump was not an attack on the freedom of thought and expression of KKK members, but rather an attack on their behaviour.
We want to remind you: This operation is not about the ideas of members of the Ku Klux Klan. This is about the behaviours of members of KKK splinter cells that bear the hallmarks of terrorism.
The collective even struck a somewhat conciliatory tone towards its targets, noting certain areas of common ground.
They are mostly poor and pissed off at the the Man. They oppose government surveillance and they generally feel persecuted for free thought.
Day to day, some klan members work very hard for very little. We will never sympathize with the KKK but we do desire to understand them and learn about how they see their world.
We do see their humanity, we respect their right to free thought and we know their fear of others is wrong. We also know their behaviors strike fear, anxiety and terror into others. This will no longer be socially tolerated.