Posts Tagged ‘Guy Fawkes masks’

‘Anonymous’ Protest Church of Scientology

Sunday, February 11th, 2024

‘Anonymous’ Protest Church of Scientology – This protest on Sunday 10th February 2008 was I am fairly sure the first protest where I had come across people wearing the ‘Anonymous’ Guy Fawkes masks that later became popular and are still seen occasionally at protests. Some wore other masks, perhaps preferring not to contribute royalties to Warner Brothers and these made the protest more interesting visually.

'Anonymous' Protest Church of Scientology

The masks were based on the illustrations by David Lloyd for the 1980s graphic novel ‘V for Vendetta’ written by Alan Moore, but had become well-known in 2006 with the release of the film version where it was worn by the anarchist freedom fighter ‘V’.

'Anonymous' Protest Church of Scientology

The protest was also one of the earliest physical protests in the UK at least to be organised and carried out by an Internet-based organisation, Project Chanology, set up the previous month to oppose attempts by the Church of Scientology to remove one of their videos from the web.

'Anonymous' Protest Church of Scientology
Some wore L Ron Hubbard Masks

This video, part of the Scientology training material featured leading Hollywood actor Tom Cruise, then alleged to be the second in command of the organisation. Since then Cruise appears to have distanced himself at least to some extent from Scientology, which had been at the root of his two divorces from Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes, and to have concentrated on his movie career.

'Anonymous' Protest Church of Scientology

There have been more and more revelations published about Scientology and allegations of the harm it has caused to those who either leave the organisation or publish material about it, who are regarded as ‘fair game’ for harassment campaigns.

As I wrote in 2008, it was because of this that Project Chanology called “themselves ‘Anonymous’ and the London demonstration was one of over 50 protests in cities around the world in which those taking part hide their identity behind masks.

Various reports published over the years have comprehensively exposed some of the practices of the Church of Scientology and the number of its adherents is said to have dropped although the organisation has grown richer and acquired more real estate.

The London centre on Queen Victoria St was opened in 2006 and “20 City of London police officers between them accepted more than £11,000 in gifts and entertainment from the Church of Scientology” according to the London Evening Standard, perhaps why they arrested and charged a teenager in May 2008 for holding a placard “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.” The case was dropped after advice from the CPS.

So far as I was aware there were no arrests at the protest on 10th February at Queen Victoria Street or later when the protesters moved to the Dianetics & Scientology Life Improvement Centre in Tottenham Court Road.

More pictures at ‘Anonymous’Protest – Church of Scientology on My London Diary.

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Anonymous March to Parliament – 2013

Sunday, November 5th, 2023

Anonymous March to Parliament – On Monday 5th of November 2012 around two thousand Anonymous supporters met in Trafalgar Square and marched to Parliament Square against austerity, the cuts and the increasing gap between rich and poor, warning the government they need to change.

Anonymous March to Parliament - 2013

This was part of #Operation Vendetta, which they described as “a worldwide Anonymous operation of global strength and solidarity, a warning to all governments worldwide that if they keep trying to censor, cut, imprison, or silence the free world or the free internet they will not be our governments for much longer.”

Anonymous March to Parliament - 2013

Wikipedia describes Anonymous as “a decentralized international activist and hacktivist collective and movement primarily known for its various cyberattacks against several governments, government institutions and government agencies, corporations and the Church of Scientology.” The article also quotes their common tag-line “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

Anonymous March to Parliament - 2013

Anonymous supporters or ‘Anons’ remain anonymous by wearing masks styled on those in David Lloyd’s illustrations, based on those used in London in 1605 by Guy Fawkes, for Alan Moore’s graphic novel V for Vendetta which features ‘V’, an anarchist revolutionary and superhero who dresses in a mask and cloak. In 2005 the story was made into a film and masks based on Lloyd’s drawings were mass-produced as merchandise for this, copyrighted by Warner Brothers who collect royalties on them, though there have been many pirated versions.

Anonymous March to Parliament - 2013

The complex story, written when Thatcher was prime minister and set in the near future is set in a Britain after a nuclear war in which the UK suffered little direct damage as a Labour government had renounced nuclear weapons and closed US bases before it broke out. But in the post-war chaos corporations and fascists hadtaken power and established a totalitarian state. In the story which begins on Guy Fawkes Night in London in 1997, V engages in a number of attacks against the regime, including on 5th November 1998 blowing up the Post Office Tower and it ends following V’s death with a general insurrection in which Downing Street is blown up by an Underground train carrying V’s body.

Of course there is no Underground line below Downing Street although there are underground tunnels below much of Whitehall and elsewhere in London some of which are used by police and security services. They were built 100ft down for communications cables during World War 2 and the network was expanded during the Cold War Era.

Across the world Anonymous has carried out a number of sometimes successful cyber-operations as well as launching real-world protests, particularly against Scientology and child pornography sites.

This protest in London called for an end to cuts in education, health and welfare and the end of ‘austerity measures’ that target the poor and vulnerable, calling on the government to tackle the causes of the problems, including the banks and tax avoidance and evasion. They also want freedom for the Internet, with respect for the privacy of Internet users and the dropping of the Communications Data Bill.

They also demanded the release of Internet activists who they say are political prisoners, including Julian Assange then still holed up in a London embassy, Richard O’Dwyer wanted in the US for alleged copyright infringements, and the “PayPal 14, Jeremy Hammond, Topiary and the 4 anons of the UK that will stand trial on November 7th.”

Although the Anons had stressed this was to be an entirely peaceful event the police were taking few chances and were out in force, perhaps reacting more to the events in the novel than the actual event they were policing.

The event itself as might have been expected was chaotic, and the movement from Trafalgar Square to Parliament Square was more a drift than a march. Police reacted angrily after the protests simply walked around a line of police trying to stop them were simply walked around and one officer clearly lost his temper at the insistent taunting and photographing by the activists, but police and other protesters soon calmed things down.

Banners were raised along the fence outside the Houses of Parliament, and one young woman removed her shirt to pose in her bra. The ‘heritage wardens’ tried to stop people using fire poi in the square but soon had to give up as more and more began to perform. Police tried without much success to clear the roads to keep traffic moving around the square, and a ‘Transport for London’ lorry managed to effectively block a junction to hold up the bus I was on for over 10 minutes after I had decided to go home. The protest apparently continued for several hours after I’d left.

More on My London Diary at Anonymous March to Parliament.