Content Warning: References to racial violence, homophobic slur.
by Eve Lacroix
Ghost Squad, a branch of the hacktivist group Anonymous, targeted official Black Lives Matter (BLM) websites www.blacklifematters.org and www.blacklivesmatter.com between the 29th and 30th of April. Using a technique called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), which consists in persistent and repetitive HTTP requests to crash a server, Ghost Squad shut down both websites temporarily.
A self-professed Ghost Squad hacker confirmed that the Anonymous spawn was responsible for the Black Lives Matter website crashes. The project is called s1ege, and the BLM attack came in only a week after Ghost Squad’s DDoS attack on official Ku Klux Klan (KKK) website. Speaking to the online journal www.HackRead.com, the hacker said “(sic) we targeted the Black Lives Matter Movement, we have been watching several members of their movement hold racist signs (…) s1ege started this operation after attacking the KKK, I realised the individuals in the BLM movement were acting no better, some even promote genocide of the Caucasian race. (…) All Lives Matter!”
The “All Lives Matter” argument stems from the same logic as “reverse racism,” which ignores the racial hierarchy of America’s Euro-centric society
The Black Lives Matter movement exists to protest police brutality, racial profiling and the unaccountable, unfair and racist American justice system. The KKK, however, has a history of lynching and murdering black people and actively spreads racial hate speech. It is absolutely callous for Anonymous’ s1ege attack to equate anti-white sentiments with decades of systemic racism and racially-motivated murder in American society by giving the two movements the same DDoS treatment. The “All Lives Matter” argument stems from the same logic as “reverse racism,” which ignores the racial hierarchy of America’s Euro-centric society that considers white bodies as more valuable than black and brown bodies. All Lives Matters feeds back into the cultural silencing of black stories when they make white people uncomfortable. Furthermore, ignoring the worrying proximity of All Lives Matter with white-power movements and Trump supporters is careless. Supporting Black Lives Matter does not mean you think white lives don’t matter, it simply means you support a world in which your skin colour does not determine the nature of the police’s interactions with you.
The non-hierarchical, anonymous and anarchic qualities of the Anonymous movement make it difficult to call them out and hold these subgroups accountable for their actions. Probably originating in the dark underbelly of the Internet that is 4chan, Anonymous’ slogan is “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” Before hacking or leaking, an Anonymous-affiliated YouTube channel often releases a video telling who they are going to attack and why— sometimes stating the date. However, whether these are a hoax or the real deal can only be figured out once the damage is done. Oscillating between “trolls”, i.e. wreaking havoc for no particularly reason “for the lulz”, and (CW: homophobic slur) “moralfags” who hack and leak for political reasons. Except for, perhaps, anti-cyber surveillance and anti-cyber censorship, there is no common core or common ideology. The problem with this kind of a faceless, shape-shifting anarchic organisation is that it is therefore very difficult to hold accountable for its actions.
Having said this, I implore the Anonymous members who understand the very important distinction between the Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter movements to publicly denounce this recent Ghost Squad attack.
Cover image © blacklivesmatter.com