Hacktivist Collective Anonymous Begins Leaking Identities of Alleged KKK Members, Including Major U.S. Politicians (UPDATE)
The group claims to have unhooded mayors and senators, but not everyone is convinced the information is accurate.
Image via (cc) Flickr user Arete13
Activist hacker collective Anonymous has launched a major attack on alleged members of the Ku Klux Klan, publishing their names and contact information as part of an ongoing initiative started by the group in the wake of last year’s marches in Ferguson, Missouri. At the time, a Missouri chapter of the KKK had threatened violence against those protesting the shooting death of African American teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer. In response, members of Anonymous reportedly commandeered a major KKK Twitter account, and began sharing personal data of alleged Klansmen.
Now, roughly a year later, Anonymous has upped the ante in the feud, announcing last week plans to roll out names and information for a large number of KKK members in the coming days. They wrote in a press release:
The aim of this operation is digital. Another cyber war trist, nothing more. We are not violent. We will release, to the global public, the identities of up to 1000 klan members, Ghoul Squad affiliates and other close associates of various factions of the Ku Klux Klan across the Unites States.
Members of the group also uploaded a video press release, detailing their plans for the first week of November:
Thus far names and contact information for several dozen alleged Klansmen have been posted to the text-sharing website Pastebin. Reportedly included in the initial batch of accused Klan members are the mayors of Knoxville, Tennessee; Norfolk, Virginia; and Fort Wayne, Indiana, as well as U.S. senators including Thom Tillis of North Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas.
Image via (cc) Flickr user boze3000
As is probably to be expected, the leaked names are receiving intense scrutiny, with many pointing to several suspicious entries as proof positive that the unverified list is, at the very least, highly suspect. Included amongst the alleged Klansmen, for example, is Jim Gray, the mayor of Lexington, Kentucky, who came out publicly as gay in 2005. Senator Tillis, meanwhile, is a Catholic, one of the groups traditionally targeted by the Klan. In a statement to WLEX-TV, Gray said simply: “This allegation is false, insulting, and ridiculous. I have never had any relationship of any kind with the KKK. I am opposed to everything it stands for. I have no idea where this information came from, but wherever it came from, it is wrong.”
Even Anonymous seems at odds with itself over whether the information released today is accurate. An affiliated Twitter account created last year as part of the group’s initial conflict with the Klan has publicly distanced itself from this particular leak, tweeting:
That faction of Anonymous has pledged to release their own list of alleged Klan members on November 5.