Some in Anonymous ready to strike at anything in wake of Wall Street raid
New York, Toronto, other targets may be on menu for revenge
Unlikely alliances and strange bedfellows make for great story lines in news today and myth 20 years from now. They don't often last to become either inevitable-if-you-think-about-it or bedfellows lumped together as if they had always been.
In the long run – and more often in the short – the differences that make bedfellows strange make them strangers just as quickly.
When everyone in the bed is iconoclastic, independent, outspoken and angry enough at the powers that be to strike back even when those powers be standing two feet away, dressed in riot gear with a nightstick in one hand and pepper spray in the other – well, the breakup isn't going to be conciliatory.
Two months of angry, inconvenienced commuters and the hygiene challenges inherent to groups of people living in confined spaces without access to plumbing facilities on loan from local businesses gave Bloomberg enough time to appear benevolent.
The complaint gave Bloomberg enough excuse to clean up the mess a crushed economy dropped on Wall Street's front stoop so 40-year-old millionaires and 50-year-old billionaires don't have to listen to the complaints of people who were among the robbed, not the robbers, when the economy was cracked, stripped and sold for scrap.
A judge backed him up today, seemingly putting a nail in the coffin of Zucotti Park, if not the Occupation overall.
Potential counterattacks in response to Zucotti Park clearance
However much endurance and reach the overall Occupy movement shows, the end of the Wall-Street sit-in that launched it also set off frustration and anger that had been bubbling under the surface.
Most of the threatened violence is cyber and most is directed against authorities.
On a site called TakeTheSquare, protesters are trying to organize a series of events for Thursday to protest the ouster from Zucotti Park. Organizers and followers suggest plans and recruit members under the hashtag #N17 on Twitter.
They have also posted the plans on Facebook (though if they wanted to make it spread more widely they should post much of the information as Private and Facebook will take care of the rest).
Some of the reaction has been less civilly disobedient.
ABC7News interviewed a guy named "Jake" who goes by the username "Secret Squirrel," calls himself "a hacker, "and has the T-shirt and a year-and-a-half in prison to prove it." He goes by the username "Secret Squirrel" and said he's planning an attack on the FEMA Emergency Alert System to post pro-Occupation messages from Anonymous, of which he claims to be a member. (Am I the only one who has counted three strikes on this guy's credibility already? Actually four or five?).
"Secret Jake" said he's only one of a number of Anonymi planning attacks on various media sites to post Anonymous messages in repetitive loops.
"The potential is that you could hijack all radio and TV stations across the country," Jake told ABC7. "There's no authentication, there's no encryption, there's no passwords, there's nothing that is required to send what would appear to be a valid message. I would then play the tones on my laptop, they get transmitted by the radio, I then play my audio message and then I just pack everything up and walk away." – ABC7News via Computerworld, Nov. 15, 2011
In a 90-second YouTube video (turn your sound down), a group calling itself Anonymous has threatened to attack Toronto's main web sites and bring them down if the city follows through on a threat to drive OccupyToronto out of its tent city next week.
End of one chapter drives frustration if you can't read the next one yet
The real story is the frustration – expressed by some, taunted by others – over the progress or lack of progress from the Wall Street Occupation.
Some accuse leaders among Anonymous of focusing too much on organization and security and not enough on driving the protest movement (although not being arrested makes the leadership of any group more effective).
Others spread the blame to all the groups in the protest movement and urge more disruption and possibly real or digital violence in protests to make more of an impact.
Others freak out a little over the new Protect IP Act that some are already, satirically, calling the Great Firewall of America the Great Firewall of China, used by that country's oppressive, free-speech-allergic government to try to keep all the content it dislikes out of the hands of its citizens.
Most of the negative reactions are just reactions to the drama of yesterday's expulsion from Zucotti Park, not evidence of long-term evolution toward exclusively chaotic online violence and disruption.
Anonymous, as a group, isn't actually a group even now. But it was one of the most effective organizations putting together, managing and regulating a political movement that started with a few people in silly masks showing up in Lower Manhattan and turned into the most important new truly grass-roots protest movement since the '60s. (Sorry, Tea Party; you started out grass roots, but went AstroTurf and then Republican Establishment so quickly it was hard to even track the shift.)
OWS wasn't Anonymous' first rodeo. It had a little punch-up with the most litigious franchise religion in the States a few years ago, which also features in-person protests.
OWS was big, though. Seeing its physical presence slowly deteriorate in a heap of tearing tarps, violent crime and dissolution of purpose via invasions of hangers-on or politically-disinterested homeless people made the ending of the Wall Street OWS feel like a failure.
Most effective example of ad-hoc'ery, 2011: Anonymous and OWS
It was the first movement in a symphony being played nationwide. It was sudden, ad hoc in the organizations and individuals who put it together, with logistics, political demands and even bathroom stops completely improvised.
It spread nationally and, to an extent, internationally, on the strength of widespread dissatisfaction with economic conditions, abuse of loopholes and legislative advantages by the wealthy and genuineness of a message that acknowledged the people sending it don't have all the answers and may not even have the end of the message.
But they know the text defining what has been happening to economies worldwide during the past three decades is not economic progress or the triumph of the invisible hand of the market in the lives of real people.
It's been a set-up by people wealthy or powerful enough to shift legislation to give themselves more freedom or better opportunities, then another shift, then another.
In the U.S. those shifts usually balance each other out. Left one election; right the next. For 30 years the trend has been toward taxes that punish the middle class, regulations that let Wall Street brokers and financiers indulge their tendency to gamble with other people's money, and steadily took away the ability of the sheep who get fleeced in that process to complain that it's getting cold outside in the park and it would be nice if someone would let it make itself a coat without taking it away again.
Give the Anonymi and their allies a week to rest and recover, maybe a month, and the next wave of populism will begin, gaining more support through 2012 as we approach the Presidential elections, which always get consumers thinking Big Thoughts about their futures. Right now, most are coming to the conclusion that someone else already owns their futures and there's not much they can do about it.
Except hit the park. And maybe the Internet. That's where the power lies – to attack in protest, to argue in support, to recruit allies to march in the street with you.
That's what Anonymous proved during OWS, even more effectively than they showed that, no matter how carefully applied, after a few days outdoors, no one can look as slick in a Guy Fawkes mask V for Vendetta's agent of vengeance looked dancing with Natalie Portman.
You just can't keep the wig combed that clean.