The residents of Charleston, South Carolina have been through a lot lately, but probably aren't used to Guy Fawkes masks. Now Anonymous, in typically grandiose fashion, is jumping into the debate over the use of the Confederate flag by staging a Million Mask March in the city of 130,000 on the Fourth of July.
The loosely affiliated hacking collective is calling for one million people to show up in Charleston on Independence Day to show solidarity with Bree Newsome, an activist who was arrested after removing the Confederate flag from the state capital building. Multiple incidents in South Carolina – the video of a white police officer shooting a black man in the back and a white supremacist’s mass shooting at a traditionally black church – have made the state the latest ground zero for race relations in the U.S.
“We believe that this historic act of civil disobedience MUST be honored, and in a way benefitting such an amazing act of courage,” Anonymous said of Newsome’s climb, in a statement.
“We call on every American of good conscience to make their way to Columbia, South Carolina and March with us to the State Capital. We will sing hymns of praise, we will honor the fallen, we will feed each other, we will love each other. And together with a million voices and fists raised to the heavens we will demand one thing: The Flag Must Come Down!”
Operation Ferguson, the civil rights-focused faction of Anonymous that organized in the wake of the Mike Brown shooting last year in Missouri, is organizing the South Carolina march. Anonymous first became known when it took credit for high-profile hacks on the Church of Scientology, Stratfor Intelligence and a number of other groups before they started leaking personal information of police officers involved (and sometimes not involved) in polarizing shooting incidents.
The group holds its annual Million Mask March every November 5 in major cities throughout the world to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ Day, which marks a failed plot to blow up the English Houses of Parliament.