The situation in Ferguson, MO has brought its fair share of supporters and detractors as violence has erupted and the threat of violence remains, but there is no more sordid story than the Ku Klux Klan using it as an opportunity to recruit people to its noxious cause. It is no surprise, then, that the activist hackers at Anonymous have stepped in to wreak havoc on the KKK’s internet presence. After threatening to meet Ferguson protestors with violence, the Ku Klux Klan came under fire from Anonymous who has since then hacked its Twitter and website.
The brouhaha started after a KKK flyer was distributed in and around Ferguson by the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (TAKKKK), a local group operating in Missouri. The flyer is a threat of lethal force against protesters and cites Missouri self-defense law as a justification. It directs its warning at the “terrorists masquerading as ‘peaceful protestors [sic]'” and also says that freedom of speech does not give protesters the right to “terrorize citizens.” Frank Ancona, the president of the local group, has defended the language and intent of the flyer, even going on television to do so. In an interview with Chris Hayes on MSNBC he talked about “terroristic threats” and that the principle of defense means that someone would have to be attacking them for them to act.
This defense was not enough to convince Anonymous not to act. First it took over the KKK’s Twitter account and it seems it may have also taken down an affiliated website. On the Twitter account, it released a statement about why it took such an action. It classified the KKK as a terrorist group and said that Anonymous considers the right to free speech to no longer apply to the bigoted and violent speech of the KKK. The statement also included the news that Anonymous has learned the identities of some Klan members and is debating whether or not to release that information to the public. It also warned that this was just the first stage of what it is calling “#opKKK.”
After being hacked so thoroughly by Anonymous, the Ku Klux Klan has remained adamant that it will not be bullied and that its mission in Ferguson will go on despite the threat online. Frank Ancona characterized Anonymous as “kid’s in their mom’s basement whacking off.” He also issued what may amount to a direct challenge when he said, “If they want to come after us, they have to come out onto the streets.” Ancona and the KKK’s belligerence is well in keeping with their general attitude of physical threat and violence.
The real question is whether or not Anonymous is actually doing any good by hacking the KKK. Ancona pointed out that the Ku Klux Klan is not a primarily internet-oriented group, but that does not mean that it will not be affected by the hack. Having a unicorn standing in front of a rainbow on their Twitter is an intentionally humorous moment and one that Anonymous took much glee in providing. It may not affect the Ku Klux Klan’s day-to-day activities, but Anonymous has made the Klan a laughing-stock online.
The Ku Klux Klan is a hate group that has brought threats of violence to the Ferguson protests which would escalate the already tenuous situation in the area, so it is no wonder that Anonymous has stepped in with a hack of its online accounts. Anonymous prides itself on sticking up for the little guy and providing justice through hacking. In this case, however, the efficiency of that mission is in question. Whether or not Anonymous has actually done something that can help the situation in Ferguson remains to be seen.
By Lydia Bradbury