Posts Tagged ‘Guy Fawkes’

MillionMask2019

The Million Mask March and Guy Fawkes

The hacktivist group Anonymous announced they would be gathering at The Washington Monument at 9:00am this morning to begin a protest in Downtown D.C. It’s an annual protest that is in its 7th year here in D.C. (23rd year worldwide), and is part of an annual global protest associated with Anonymous. The protest has come to be known as the Million Mask March, or “Operation Vendetta,” and takes place each year on Guy Fawkes Day, the 5th of November. So I decided to learn more about the group and protest, and then to go and observe the protest.

The motives for each year’s march varies, but are usually broad in scope and include some consistent themes and beliefs that are prevalent in the Anonymous movement. They include: corruption in politics and governments; banks, corporations, and big pharma companies; government surveillance; demilitarization; capitalist greed; climate change; internet censorship; police violence; the erosion of civil liberties; self-governance, and; the treatment of vulnerable groups like migrants, disabled people, and those living in poverty.

Anonymous also ascribes to what many people would call “conspiracy theories.” According to the web site for the Million Mask March the group contends that: Jackie Kennedy, and not Lee Harvey Oswald, shot John F. Kennedy; Julian Assange was an orphan raised in a CIA child sex slave camp and was framed in the 9/11 attacks, and; Jeffrey Epstein, the American financier and convicted sex offender who was recently reported to have committed suicide while in Federal custody is, in fact, not dead but living on a ranch under the protection of the Federal government.

Anonymous associates itself with Guy Fawkes, and those attending protests usually wear Guy Fawkes masks. And they schedule their main protest on Guy Fawkes Day (which is also known as Bonfire Night and Firework Night). Guy Fawkes Day is an annual commemoration observed primarily in the United Kingdom. Its history began with the events of November 5, 1605, when a man named Guy Fawkes, a participant in what became known as the Gunpowder Plot, was arrested while guarding explosives the plotters had placed beneath the House of Lords. Celebrating the fact that King James the First had survived the attempt on his life, people lit bonfires around London; and months later, the introduction of the Observance of the 5th of November Act enforced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.

Fawkes was sentenced to be executed for his part in trying to assassinate the king. But shortly before the sentence was scheduled to be carried out, Fawkes fell from the scaffold where he was to be hanged and broke his neck, thus avoiding the agony of being hanged, drawn and quartered.

So after learning about the planned protest and the group, I took an early break from work today and went down to The Washington Monument at 9:00am to observe the Million Mask March. I got there at about 8:45am, but didn’t see anyone wearing a Fawkes mask, or that looked like they were there for a protest. But I was early. So I waited. It wasn’t particularly crowded at the monument. In fact there were no more than a couple of dozen tourist coming and going. I waited for over an hour but no protesters showed up. I eventually gave up and went back to work. I checked a site that was supposed to be live streaming the march. But I got a message that read, “404 – Page Not Found.” And later, after the march was scheduled to have concluded, I checked the Facebook page that was set up for the march. Despite multiple posts made today, there were no posts or photos of the march.

So, I find it ironically interesting that the group aligns itself Guy Fawkes, a man and a day famous for failure. If the purpose of the march was to influence people and communicate with the public, today’s march was as much a failure as Fawkes and The Gunpowder Plot.

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Million Mask March

Instead of a monument or statue or other identified attraction which is my usual destination, I instead rode to an event during yesterday’s lunchtime bike ride.  I attended the “Million Mask March” here in D.C., which was a protest organized by the hacktivist group Anonymous, scheduled to be held simultaneously “in 671 different cities” throughout the world.  I found out about the march about an hour and a half before it began when a security bulletin was sent to me at work, and since I was already here in D.C. and always open to new experiences, I grabbed one of the bikes that I keep in the parking garage of my office building and took an early lunch break to go check it out for myself.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the demonstration was intended to address a myriad of topics and issues, to include: “Major Corruption In Every Government; Education Reform; The Trans-Pacific Partnership; The National Defense Authorization Act; Militarized Police State; Police Brutality; Wars Of Aggression; Genetically Modified Organisms; Free Palestine; 911 Truth; Health Care Reform; Houselessness; Starvation; Human Rights; Alternative Energy; 2nd Amendment; Stop Paying Taxes; Fukushima; Bradley now Chelsea Manning; Jeremy Hammond; Aaron Schwartz; Barrett Brown, and; Freedom!”  But demonstrators also voiced concerns about additional topics as diverse as buying only locally-grown food, or not shopping on Black Friday.

The turnout wasn’t quite what was expected, with pre-event estimates ranging from one to twenty-five thousand local participants. In the end there were, at most, only a couple hundred people, many wearing the trademark Guy Fawkes mask popularized by the “V for Vendetta” movie, who marched in the event here.  While the diversity of issues may be an attraction for some, I think the lack of focus and specificity, much like the Occupy D.C. Movement that camped out in protest in McPhereson Square a few years ago, may ultimately be what kept the size of the crowd smaller than it might have been.  I think it also, for the most part, inhibited the group’s message from getting out to anyone outside the group of protestors themselves.

The group met at the Washington Monument, where I caught up with them, and then proceeded to march, under police escort, to The White House.  After conducting a demonstration in front of the north portico of the White House, the group later in the day marched to the U.S. Capitol Building, with stops along the way, such as at FBI Headquarters.  Although protesters were supposed to follow a specific route, they were characteristically unpredictable, and some broke off from the main group causing minor chaos with afternoon commuter traffic.  But despite some minor incidents, the demonstrators here in D.C. were for the most part law-abiding and non-violent,  which cannot be said of all the other groups in other cities yesterday.

Despite the low number of participants, however, it was an worthwhile event with an interesting group of people, as you will be able to see in these photographs that I took along the way.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]