After the tragic suicide of Reddit co-founder and Internet activist Aaron Swartz, hacktivist group Anonymous vowed to derail picketing efforts by the hate-mongering members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who threatened to protest Swartz's funeral on Tuesday. When members of Anonymous and supporters showed up to block the WBC's picket line, the quasi-religious group was nowhere to be seen.
Westboro Baptist Church on Sunday announced plans to protest Swarz's open funeral in a press release titled "GOD H8S Cyber Criminal THUGS."
"Cyber criminals are the latest face of this nation's and this world's raging at God and His Servants at WBC," reads the Westboro press release, via Twitter account @WBCSays. "Now the gloves are off, cyber rebels! ... We will picket the funeral, the LORD willing, so that in that Great Day of His Wrath, your blood is not on our hands."
A crowd showed up to the funeral home in Highland Park, Ill., on Tuesday, willing to stand in the way of Westboro members to prevent them from getting close to the procession, according to a tweet sent from Anon-affiliated account @Anon2World. According to a tweet from Anonymous mouthpiece account @YourAnonNews, the WBC's lawyer contacted police to say that WBC would not be attending the funeral.
On Monday, a video was uploaded to YouTube by user ChannelZeroYT11, an apparently Anonymous-controlled account, announcing that hacktivists would block any attempt by Westboro to picket Swartz's funeral.
"Before discussing the operation, there is something that needs to be said to Aaron's family and his friends: We're sorry," says the Anonymous statement (see in the video above). "It is likely that our continuous condemnation and attacks against this cult is the very reason Aaron is being targeted by them. We would do anything to stop them from attending Aaron's services. Aaron deserves peace and we will not allow this cult to overpower what should be the media's focus, the monsters at DOJ who ruthlessly targeted your son."
Swartz committed suicide in New York City on Jan. 11. In July 2011, the 26-year-old was charged with felony hacking. He was accused of stealing nearly 5 million academic articles from JSTOR, a popular online research outlet. He pled not guilty in September 2012 but was still facing a possible prison sentence, according to ZDNet.
This is not the first time Anonymous has pushed back against controversial protest attempts made by the WBC. In December, Anonymous revealed the personal information of various alleged WBC members and called for supporters to head to Connecticut to block WBC members from the funerals of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting victims, whom WBC targeted because Connecticut supports gay marriage.