November 5 marks the day of the Million Mask March, with rallies being held worldwide from London to Hong Kong full of anonymous protestors behind white-face masks . These protests are the brainchild of the internet hacktivist group known as Anonymous, who have described themselves as opposing mass surveillance, human rights offenses, corruption and austerity. While each protest is taking a different form, there is a unified global effort on to challenge the status quo and send a message. In London, plans are to create massive traffic disturbances around Trafalgar Square and the city center. In Washington D.C. there is a crowd which has marched down to outside the FBI building, along with even more marching to the White House as well. In Hong Kong, there are protesters filling streets in Lan Kwai Fong, “high-fiving” and celebrating with spectators according to one Twitter user. In Gothenburg, Sweden, large numbers of Million Mask March protestors have been reported, with images of flag-waving mask bearers being sent out over social media.
Tensions at these events are beginning to rise as well. There has been one unconfirmed report on Twitter that one protestor at the Million Mask March in Washington D.C. has had a taser used on him by law-enforcement, though no details of that incident have yet come out. Marchers in London have reportedly begun constructing barricades and structures of their own as a part of the demonstrations. Police, expecting chaos, have been in riot gear in and around the city center since before the planned start of the proceedings, and have indicated that many more arms of law enforcement are on stand-by. Police made a statement just after the march began asking that protestors not use fireworks as a part of their demonstration, but images continue to emerge on Twitter of flares and rockets being launched from inside the crowds. The planned chaos in London appears to only be getting started.
While Million Mask Marchers are building barricades in London, the Washington D.C. crowd has fought with police to remove them from in front of the Capitol building. Officers with bullhorns are shouting at the crowd that they are subject to arrest and that those arrests will begin if the crowd encroaches beyond the point where the police fences had been. Video of the confrontation shows police facing an increasingly agitated mass of people, though no significant physical altercations have happened yet.
Smaller groups have been sending out pictures of their marches as well, like a few dozen protestors in Berlin by the Brandenburg Gate. Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia also are reporting moderate size groups and posting images. Protestors in Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines are reporting growing crowds, though not the size of the Hong Kong protest yet. The steady stream of photos and videos coming out of these marches has made it apparent that Anonymous have managed to stage a truly global event, touching on concerns of privacy and corruption which resonate across the world. Emotions are running high on both sides of the Million Mask March rallies, which is really what the intent of the event appears to have been. Whatever specific goals the individual protests have presented, the repeated message across the world is for people to think, and feel, and perhaps not to follow blindly so much. Good or bad, the message has ever-increasing numbers of Million Mask marchers doing just that.
By Jim Malone