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Anonymous Attacks KKK Over Ferguson Threat, But Misses The Point

Corinne Gaston |
November 18, 2014 | 2:28 p.m. PST

Deputy Opinion Editor

“Anonymous took over the KKK Twitter account,” were never words I ever expected to hear or say. But as of Nov. 16, I have. Not too many people have heard yet, but the decentralized network of hacktivists called Anonymous took over the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) Twitter account at the handle @KuKluxKlanUSA on Nov. 16, after a KKK chapter in Missouri began handing out flyers threatening “lethal force” against the protestors in Ferguson, Mo. Anonymous has claimed that it has infiltrated the KKK and has warned that anything the KKK tries to upload, share or send will be released and/or promoted to the public.

It’s hard not to cheer to some degree when the KKK, long entrenched as America’s No.1 white supremacist, racist, anti-Semitic and all-around bigoted organization, suddenly finds itself under very very public siege by a largely invisible attacker. And this isn’t the first time that individuals of Anonymous have taken on political activist causes. What’s hard to cheer about, however, is the image Anonymous used in their first tweet after taking over the KKK Twitter account: a lynched Klansman with the sentence “The war is on!” written along the bottom.

Some may view the image as the KKK getting its just desserts or having the tables “rightfully” turned on them, but I, along with others, see the deeply harmful imagery of lynched black people being co-opted for a faux activist agenda. The Anonymous image is shocking and provocative. But to use it was a completely disrespectful decision that reveals that those behind #OpKKK (Operation KKK) lack true empathy for the people in Ferguson whom they claim to be helping. I’m not in Ferguson, but the image of the lynched Klansman was still triggering. It made me second guess my initial support of Anonymous’ takeover and think deeply about whether their work for #OpKKK was actually going to achieve anything at such a critical point in time for the people of Ferguson. Aside from doxing certain Klan members to reveal their standing in society and the catharsis many are getting from simply watching #OpKKK unfold, Anonymous’ attack on the KKK mostly seems like a distraction from the institutional violence in Ferguson and the pending Grand Jury decision for police officer Darren Wilson who shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9. 



Sadly, this isn’t the first time Anonymous has stepped in it and caused a distraction when it comes to Ferguson. Back in August, activist and writer Feminista Jones took charge on organizing a National Moment of Silence in honor of the “fatal victims of police shootings and brutality.” The peaceful vigils were planned for Aug. 14, yet right before they took place, someone from Anonymous released a video on YouTube calling for an organized “Day of Rage” at the same locations and times as the National Moment of Silence vigils. They failed to mention the original organizers of National Moment of Silence, effectively co-opting that movement and all of the work that went into it and, again, revealing a lack of true empathy for those in Ferguson by trying to dictate the atmosphere of the vigils. Like their use of the image of the lynched Klansman, Anonymous’ Day of Rage missed the point.

It’s honestly confusing as to why Anonymous would go after the KKK for promising “lethal violence” against those taking part in the uprising in Ferguson when it’s been the police and now Missouri Governor Jay Nixon who have been the ones inflicting violence as well as acts of suppression and intimidation upon protestors—not just “promising” to do so. We’ve known this for months. We’ve known this since Ferguson police immediately responded to the initial vigils for Michael Brown and civil unrest in August with K-9 units, riot gear, tanks tear gas and curfews. To treat the KKK as the problem here is laughable if not monumentally distracting. And to hold up Anonymous as a beacon of social justice for their act while the protestors and civilians of Ferguson are the ones whose bodies are literally on the line is a farce.

Anonymous’ public takeover of the KKK seems to be functioning largely as an act for attention and praise. Perhaps some of the people behind it truly believe they are doing good work (and revealing Klansmen who are law enforcers is indeed important), but from the videos released by those of Anonymous and the posts on the co-opted KKK Twitter page, the gloating narcissism in this undertaking is palpable and should lead people to take this act with a grain of salt.

While the Anons behind #OpKKK have demonstrated that they care for the “cause” in Ferguson, by using lynching imagery to celebrate and boast of their takeover of the KKK Twitter account, whoever is behind #OpKKK reveals a lack of empathy and understanding of psychological historical context. My opinion of #OpKKK would be quite different if they hadn’t used the image of the lynched Klansman, but unfortunately, they did and missed the point of the Ferguson protests. As “cool” as this takeover is, as much as many of us are cheering, the KKK isn’t the problem in this situation; most of the lethal force against Ferguson protestors will come at the hands of Ferguson police. The focus needs to stay on that. It needs to stay on Wilson’s pending Grand Jury decision. It needs to stay on Governor Nixon’s declaration that Missouri is now in a state of emergency, which gives the Governor the power to suppress citizens and civil rights in ways the KKK could only dream of. We need to stay focused on the protests planned for the possible outcome of Wilson not being indicted. We can’t afford distractions right now.


"The War at Home" examines under-discussed angles of contemporary issues of discrimination, violence and social injustice within American borders.

Contact Deputy Opinion Editor Corinne Gaston here; or follow her on Twitter.



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