Anonymous, the controversial hactivist organization, released what it claims to be a list of hundreds of members and supporters of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.
The group launched the anti-KKK campaign #OpKKK on Twitter last year in retaliation to the 150-year old white supremacist group’s violent threats against protesters and demonstrations following the police shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
The data release, which Anonymous said was collected over 11 months, should not be confused with the smaller-scale leak earlier this week, which Anonymous confirmed was a hoax in its manifesto Thursday.
Anonymous made good on its promises to expose people believed to be affiliated with the KKK, Skinheads, Neo-Nazi or other white supremacy groups behind the hate group Thursday, posting dozens of pages of personal information — including Facebook pages, payment information, places of occupation, aliases, criminal history, and whether they were FBI informants — on Pastebin with a message outlining the group’s motives.
We hope Operation KKK will, in part, spark a bit of constructive dialogue about race, racism, racial terror and freedom of expression, across group lines. Public discourse about these topics can be honest, messy, snarky, offensive, humbling, infuriating, productive, and serious all at once. The reality is that racism usually does NOT wear a hood but it does permeate our culture on every level. Part of the reason we have taken the hoods off of these individuals is not because of their identities, but because of what their hoods symbolize to us in our broader society.
In its essay, Anonymous draws similarities between the KKK’s principles and its own, saying the opposition of government surveillance, championing free speech, and the experience of poverty and anger at “the Man,” is “common ground we understand all to well.”
But the comparisons stop there. The essay continues: “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.”
Anonymous has been decentralized political force online, aiming to fill cracks in the justice system by shutting down law enforcement websites, accessing databases, and doxxing individuals who seemingly escape legal ramifications. But despite perhaps noble motives, the vigilante group hasn’t always targeted the right people or had verified and reliable information.
In 2014, the group released information it believed to belong to the Ferguson police officer responsible for Brown’s death. They got it wrong and actually doxxed a police officer from another town.
However, Anonymous says it confirmed aliases and names released Thursday, but also acknowledges that some KKK members use multiple identities online.