7 November 2013, 19:46

We need Hacktivism and we need Anonymous – Christine Sands

We need Hacktivism and we need Anonymous – Christine Sands
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The Million Mask March was a worldwide event and, according to various sources, it did manage to pull together close to a million people all over the globe. During the event things got tense and although there were provocateurs who did try to turn the peaceful event into a clash with police, Anonymous and all of the Anons who turned out remained peaceful, united and made their voices heard. One of the principal organizers of the event, Christine Ann Sands, spoke to the Voice of Russia before, after, and during the event which she summed up as a success for Anonymous and for the people.

This is John Robles. I am speaking with Christine Ann Sands. She is the manager and domain owner of millionmasks.org and a supporter of the Anonymous hacktivist collective, the Occupy movement, WikiLeaks, and the Pirate Party.

Robles: Hello, Christine. How are you after what proved to be a long day?

Sands: I am very well. We moved with the groove, it was good.

There were people calling in from all over “I'm lost. How do I get there?” Kentucky, Los Angeles; “Hey, where is my event?”

In Washington, where I am, there was a lot of energy, a lot of police supervision as well, and we had the press here this morning. I can go into a little bit more detail with regard to that.

We got here before 9 o'clock, there were a couple hundred, even though there were reports…

I have always said I have no idea how many people would come but I know that people flew in, they were coming here on buses. I talked to people that have driven 4 hours just to come to DC so they all came with the great spirit.

We talked earlier about a little bit different approach. Some wanted to arrest the President and the Congress and they went with that spirit. They came here and at 9 o'clock they took off. There were a couple hundred, I did make it an announcement to the crowd: anybody who wanted to stay at the Washington Monument we would be taking up a peaceful course of action, that they would have peace, and so we tried to maintain peace there.

Robles: How many people came in your estimation overall?

Sands: Early in the morning there were couple hundred that came and then took off. Because I stayed here and didn't go there I haven't seen any reports now. But I'm going to be getting reports from people that were on the scene. My estimation is that it didn't even reach a thousand.

Robles: Yeah, less than a thousand. You were talking about the other demonstration at Lafayette Park?

Sands: Right.

Robles: I understand there were some very aggressive people there. Can you tell us about them? What happened?

Sands: Yeah, that's what happened. I got report they were swearing and screaming at the police and the Congress. And first, they went to Lafayette after coming to the Monument, then they went to White House and then they marched to the Capitol. They made their way to the Federal Reserve and then back to the White House, so, for now, that whole group is over.

But one of the participants came and said that it was a big “rage fest”. They were very excited, they thought it was very successful.

I had Global Revolution TV here this morning and I just told them that this group had a good heart, but that I had put on the Million Mask March.org website a disclaimer that this did not represent all of Anonymous.

Robles: For our listeners what do you mean by a “rage fest”?

Sands: A rage fest means that they were screaming, shouting, threatening, they wanted to jump the barricade, they got arrested. They were just screaming, in protest and in anger.

I wasn't there, I didn't witness it but these are the reports that I've heard from more than a couple of people that it is all about being angry with the government. Again, they have a right to be, but I 'm glad I stayed here because, as I did say, here at the Monument there were many people who were walking past and after all, who do we want to reach out to? We want to reach out to the one who don't know anything.

And we did reach out: the message about why take away due process and guilty until proven innocent? But they wanted to arrest everyone at the Congress but not everybody is bad over there. We are fighting for due process – that’s exactly what we are fighting for, many did agree but some went there just for curiosity's sake. I think globally it was a success.

Robles: How many numbers are you hearing about globally, I mean, any idea?

Sands: Not at this point. I'm going to be… Because I have been answering phones and people have been calling nonstop, asking questions, I haven't been able to get a bird’s eye view yet, but, when this event ends, I'll be able to go home and start looking at the reports online and looking at all the other Facebook pages.

Robles: I have had some chance to look at the newswires and different reports, I would say that it's quite possible that worldwide that there was at least a million people.

There were demonstrations in Brazil, where there was actually clashing with police. They are having some serious problems in Brazil and apparently some people decided to express their anger by wearing Guy Fawkes masks, and they are protesting about government spying and reforms and they have a lot of economic problems down there.

In the UK there were several hundred I believe in London. But if there was approximately a million people worldwide would you say that the event was a success?

Sands: Yes. Every protest is a step forward, so yes, it has to be a great success. So yes!

Robles: Were you happy with the events in Washington and do you think that splinter group, the people who were trying to provoke some sort of violent action, do you think they took away from the amount of people who actually showed up? Or do you think they didn't affect them? How did they affect the outcome?

Sands: I think that we would have gotten more people to join in had it been a peaceful event in the information dissemination.

People just don't want to become a part of it if people are raging and being surrounded by cops, people just say ‘no way’, they don’t want to be a part of that because it could be a danger or a hazard, if you view it as a riot type situation, it is not very welcoming.

But then, again, everyone has their own approach and a different agenda and I'm glad that we stayed at the Monument.

I was disappointed because, again, I got involved at their beginning before the current map and there was this girl and she said ‘okay I will do the maps’ and I said okay.

She said that she had time and was ready to take over that map, so she took over the map and then I expressed concern about them not wanting to have a permit.

And I got the permit and they broke up with me. Then they never even advertised the Washington National Monument permitted event on the map, they refused.

Next year it won’t be this way. There were certain problems with the mask keepers, with the maps but I'm positive that was the step forward, it's ok to agree or disagree.

I know that with this experience it will be a much better event next year and I won't be denying people, I will have a map to go on MillionMask.org and I won't be denying people to get on the map just because I disagree with them.

Robles: What happened with this Fairhurst character? Can you tell us about any arrests or harassment by the police?

Sands: Someone came and they told me that one person was arrested but I don't know who it was.

I was glad that I did not see him because that was where all that secret agent poet stuff came from. But I was glad in the end, I was thankful because I didn't have to be around that that kind of anger all day long.

We were peaceful here, we were listening to beautiful music and people were coming and saying 'Hey what is this all about’ and ‘hey we love you’ and they would buy Andrew Kreig’s book and make a $20 donation and they would write on the money ‘I love you, you are wonderful, marvelous’.

And women would come up and say ‘I drove here all the way’ from wherever they had come and they were just crying and they were so happy that we were here.

I got another call from a man, he didn't leave his name or number, he said to me ‘I'm a single father and I'm scared to death’ and then he just hung up.

So people are concerned and everyone wants to see things get better so they protest, and every voice that calls out for change is a step in the right direction, so yes, overall it was a magnificent success.

You were just saying that worldwide we may have had a million but guess what? Next year…

This is first year, and the first year it has had its own domain name, there wasn't a domain name before for it but it will get better and it should increase at least tenfold by next year. We need to establish these Facebook communities and then establish these networks and have people come out from behind the scenes because they know how to connect. That's the vision I have.

Robles: Can you go back to a little bit, you said some man had called and he was a single father, he said he was afraid. Why was he afraid and what can you tell us about some of the other people that showed up?

I understand it there was an open mic and people were able to tell their stories.

Can you tell us about that man on the phone? And can you tell us about some of the stories that people said or the people told?

Sands: The man didn't say anything, it was just a quick short message: I'm a single father and I'm scared to death. And you could hear his voice trembling and then he hung up. That was all that he said to me. So I didn't have a chance… He didn't leave his number.

With regard to the open mic. Because the crowd left the Monument and went to the White House and marched, we didn't have a huge crowd here at the Monument. But what we did have was a constant flow of people coming by, so we were able to do a lot more individual conversations rather than just speaking on the mic.

Robles: Can you tell us about some of the things people were talking about, complaining about, asking about?

Sands: Of course, the Federal Reserve is very big on everyone’s mind, you know, the bankers writing money out of thin air and charging everyone interest. And then they upcoming 100 Anniversary.

So that was part of the march that went out and started marching around the city. And of course they were very happy and thrilled with the energy they put out, but they wanted to go to the Fed and they marched there, too.

Again, I think that the energy, the noble desire to see change, their good heart has to be, they have to be commended for that.

I'm glad that they were able to gather and to go and to do that. And then worldwide, I think it was marvelous that we were able to get so many people, and this thing is just going to grow. There is no question about it.

Robles: Again, did you have any problems with police or anything?

Sands: Well, I did get detained so that makes number four.

Robles: What did they detain you for? How long?

Sands: Because I was parked where I was supposed to be parked, but my permit was on my computer and on my telephone and they said they wanted it on a piece of paper so they tell me to get it. And I said I didn't have it on a piece of paper and so I called… I was going to go print it, because I have my printer here, but they didn't give me the time to print it even.

They just said leave so we drove just down the road. But one of the officers, who had spoken with me before, he was very disappointed in the behavior of his other fellow officers and he apologized, he said 'I don't know why they are being like that. They are so dumb. Let's get your money back. And what are you doing later?'

Robles: They took money from you?

Sands: Yes, they ticketed me 50 bucks and then they took money from a guy who brought the audio equipment 50 bucks, too, because we couldn't print the permit out fast enough even though we were granted the permit, and even though we had the permit on my phone and on my computer. But you need to print it out on the paper because if you can't produce it the second they ask you for it then you are done.

I think that was because maybe he just had to follow orders because of the ruckus that was going on the other side. But I'll tell you one thing: the Anonomobile was a good time. We had boogey board, we had some beach toys and frisbies, and we had lawn chairs and we were playing music with video and people were just coming by and feeling good.

We had the Anon flag raised high on the top of Anonomobile where it still is right, we are still here at this location, people keep coming by and talking to us and asking questions, we play music, and the sound system is awesome.

So people can see we are making an impression on people who see the flag and they saw the websites.

Part of the problem I think with Washington, though, is that they have protests all the time so they have become numb to them, they just walk by like ‘Oh, yeah another protest.’ They don’t even ask us what it is about anymore.

It is kind of like the doctor: if you freaked out every time you saw blood you couldn’t do the job, so that is what they have become like in Washington, they have become a little bit numb.

So I am thinking we are going to have to continue to fight this battle on different fronts, that Hacktivism, guess what? You need it. You need that Hacktivism.

Robles: You were listening to an interview with Christine Ann Sands. She is the manager and domain owner of millionmasks.org and a supporter of the Anonymous hacktivist collective, the Occupy movement, WikiLeaks and the Pirate Party.

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