Demonstrators hope that one million masked activists will descend on Washington, DC next month to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day with a mass rally to remind the world “That fairness, justice and freedom are more than just words.”
That’s the mission statement of the “Million Mask March,” an event scheduled for November 5 in the nation’s capital that’s being arranged by affiliates of the hacktivism movement Anonymous, an international group of activists who’ve adopted the image of the infamous Englishman who unsuccessfully plotted to blow up Parliament in the early 1600s.
The group has been circulating flyers on the Web and in Washington, where they request that a million activists disguised as Fawkes march down the National Mall on November 5 for an array of causes that have been adopted in the past by self-proclaimed actors in the movement.
According to the event’s official Facebook page, topics to be discussed during the day include government reform, the pharmaceutical industry and the use of genetically modified foods, among others. An unofficial page that has been disavowed by the creators of the Facebook event asks for members of Anonymous, participants in the Occupy movement and supporters of WikiLeaks and whistleblowing to make the trip to DC next month.
For those unable to venture to Washington, however, other rallies have been scheduled to occur around the world on Guy Fawkes Day, including events tentatively slated to occur in locales ranging from Abuja, Nigeria and Athens, Greece to Zapata, Texas and Zurich, Switzerland.
One event scheduled to begin on the afternoon of Nov. 5 at London’s Trafalgar Square invites possible attendees “to a friendly gathering of the minds. A tea party, so to speak, as a collective we can trade our ideas and share them with the world.”
John Fairhust, the organizer of the DC rally, told IB Times that the march in Washington “is not only a protest showing our strength in numbers, it is as well the issuance of a warning to the powers that be.”
In 2008, an international series of raids targeting the Church of Scientology and orchestrated by a still-infant Anonymous occurred in tandem in over 100 cities worldwide. Participants around the globe adopted the image of Guy Fawkes as popularized in the 2005 film V for Vendetta, and that likeness has been largely affiliated with the group since.
Anonymous has adopted a number of causes over the years, and has also taken on an array of targets, often successful in its endeavors to a degree notwithstanding an absence of leadership or a central governing body.
“Despite media reports to the contrary, Anonymous, although it may be nimble, flexible and emergency, is not random, shadow or chaotic,” McGill University educator Gabriella Coleman wrote in a recently published paper about the group in which she said that “mutability and dynamism continue to be a staple of Anonymous’ activist and historical developments.”
Self-identifying “Anons” have in years past targeted government institutions and allegedly corrupt corporations alike, and earlier this month an indictment unsealed by a federal court in the US accused 13 Americans of waging cybercrimes against companies considered by the group to be pro-censorship during a campaign dubbed Operation PayBack. Fourteen Americans previously indicted for a similar assault waged at companies critical of the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks are scheduled to appear in a California courthouse on October 31.
For those planning an appearance in DC days later, however, be warned: Section 22-3312.03 of the District of Columbia code prohibits any person over the age of 16 from wearing a mask or any other item “whereby any portion of the face is hidden, concealed or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer” on public roads and property within the city.
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