Dispatch & Pics: Anonymous Rallies for Aaron Swartz in Boston, Declares War on Department of Justice

When it comes to winter demonstrations in New England, it takes a just cause or pure outrage to turn people out in arctic weather. That goes for rabble-rousing protesters, as well as for media folk who often lean on web searches and phone calls when the climate dips. The case of internet impresario and political target Aaron Swartz, whose suicide two weeks ago sparked much outrage and sadness among his friends and admirers, meets both criteria – people are extremely pissed about his plight, and they're determined to channel his tragic passing into a teaching moment. As such, about 40 allies showed up at the Moakley federal courthouse in Boston yesterday, along with a few local news outlets that weren't busy covering the frightful Super Bowl chicken wing shortage.

The Boston rally in memory of Swartz – planned by members of Anonymous, but hardly an exclusive event – was both glum and enlightening. People who knew Swartz personally, as well as many who just knew of him, welled up as they spoke praise. Typically, news-ready scenes outside of the Moakley are cheap at best and super sleazy; take, for example, the waterfront frenzy every time that former House Speaker Sal DiMasi faced flames for selling out constituents for free golf, or when King Dirtbag Whitey Bulger arrives in shackles to delay his inevitable life sentence. But this was different – this was uniquely emotional; unlike in the Bulger ordeal, the friends and family of the victims in this case – everyone with a connection to or affection for Swartz – haven't already had decades to grieve.

The first curbside speech, like the dozen or so that came after, noted the heroic accomplishments that Swartz will be enshrined for, from scientific feats like his role in the development of RSS, to his political victories in fighting anti-democratic measures like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). There was also much mention of his lack of financial motivation in perpetrating his alleged crimes; a flier circulating at the protest deemed his decisions in that matter to be genuine and honorable. It read: “Aaron Swartz believed that the internet should be an uncensored, open space, where information should be shared by all. He believed that the wealth of human knowledge rightly belonged in the hands of the public.”

In memoriam of Swartz, before marching down Atlantic Ave and through Faneuil Hall, rally-goers took turns at the bullhorn, issuing everything from carnal rants to solid points. One tearful observer juxtaposed the Swartz situation with kiddie pornographers who catch mere misdemeanors: “You get more time for messing with computers,” she said, “than you do for messing with children.” There was also a reading of his guiding Guerilla Open Access Manifesto, and other speeches given in the “grand tradition of civil disobedience” that Swartz called for in the 2008 mission statement, which foreshadowed the actions that would later land him in the clutches of opportunistic and technologically ignorant prosecutors like Carmen Ortiz, who we now know pursued him for malicious and political purposes.

Though Anonymous has been more or less ignored by the mainstream media – and by all of the hack stenographers who piggyback their contrived storylines – for more than a year now, trolls and hackers who claim affiliation with the group have been perpetually active since marquee moments like their WikiLeaks defense, and their role in the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street movements. Now, though, the more public face of Anonymous – often covered in a Guy Fawkes mask – has seemingly returned, along with a new series of headline-grabbing tactics. Earlier today, hackers claiming the cloak of Anonymous declared war against the federal justice department (video below), fucked the site for the U.S. Sentencing Commission (, and promised to continue the ruses until something gets done about the ill proliferation of predatory plea offers and taxpayer-funded persecutions, the likes of which led Swartz to suicide. Not like Anons at the Boston rally didn't warn them; “Carmen Ortiz and the Department of Justice,” said one of the final speakers, “you should have expected us.”

More Photos Here

and . . .

Wiki For Upcoming Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon Here

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