As the first anniversary of the Ferguson protests approaches, a group identifying itself as the hactivist collective Anonymous has issued a threat to members of the Ku Klux Klan:
In November of last year, Anonymous members launched Operation KKK, or #OpKKK, after a chapter of the KKK reportedly threatened to use "lethal force" against people protesting the killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
At the time, the hacker collective vowed to wage a "cyber war" against the hate group, saying: "You messed with our family and now we will mess with yours."
Within a couple of days of launching the #OpKKK campaign last year, Anonymous members claimed to have taken over the KKK’s main Twitter account and other websites associated with the group.
"We want the KKK gone, forever," a person going by the username “SiX” told The Huffington Post last November in an Anonymous Internet Relay Chat about the operation. "Don’t worry, we know what we’re doing."
In the aftermath of Anonymous' cyber takedown, several members of the KKK reportedly left the group after having their identities exposed.
In a press release, the hacker group wrote:
Ku Klux Klan, we never stopped watching you. We know who you are … We never said we would only strike once ... After closely observing so many of you for so very long, we feel confident that applying transparency to your organizational cells is the right, just, appropriate and only course of action ... You are more than extremists. You are more than a hate group. You operate much more like terrorists and you should be recognized as such. You are terrorists that hide your identities beneath sheets and infiltrate society on every level.
In another statement released last week, the hacker group also vowed to shut down any website that promotes the KKK.
According to an Addicting Info report, which was re-tweeted by Operation KKK on Tuesday, Anonymous was recently incited to action against the Klan after a person who said they were part of the hate group harassed a friend of Anonymous on Twitter. The report says an Anonymous activist responded by taking down a number of KKK websites, but the harassment continued.
"When people are faced with grave injustices, those cries do not go unheard," Operation KKK wrote in its press release. "Originally, we did not attack you for your beliefs as we fight for freedom of speech. We attacked you due to your threats to use lethal force in the Ferguson protests. We took this grudge between us rather seriously. You continue to threaten anons and others … Ku Klux Klan -- why did you stop expecting us?"
Given the amorphous and secretive nature of Anonymous, the hacktivist group's activities can be hard to verify and track. The group has also not always correctly identified its targets.
Last year, for example, a member of the hacker group mistakenly outed a Missouri police officer as the person responsible for Michael Brown's shooting. The officer, who had never even been to Ferguson, soon received hundreds of death threats.
According to a January CNN report, there are an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan today.
A member of an East Texas chapter of the hate group told the news outlet that there has recently been a "concerted effort" to increase membership in the KKK -- an effort that’s apparently been working.
The man, identified as “Henry," said he’d personally recruited over 40 new members in the previous few months.
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