You are hereHuffington Post: Occupy Wall Street And Anonymous: Turning A Fledgling Movement Into A Meme

Huffington Post: Occupy Wall Street And Anonymous: Turning A Fledgling Movement Into A Meme

-by Saki Knafo

October 20, 2011- Two weeks ago, Cornel West, Princeton professor and activist, showed up at a tent city erected by Occupy Wall Street protesters across the street from the Federal Reserve building in Boston. As he finished delivering an impromptu speech, a man who had been standing off to the side leaned in and gave him a hug. He was in his mid-thirties, with gray-dusted hair, a round face and dimples. Most people who witnessed this moment probably didn't think anything of it -- but then, most people aren't familiar with the faces of the online movement known Anonymous.

The man was Gregg Housh, an Internet technology consultant and one of the few people associated with Anonymous whose real name is known to the public. Housh occupies a special place in Anonymous lore. In 2008, he was among a small group of "Anons" who came up with the idea of releasing a video that declared war on the Church of Scientology, which in turn led to thousands of people protesting outside of Scientology centers around the world and heralded the moment when Anonymous first coalesced into something resembling a political movement.

Back then, Housh couldn't have been less interested in political or social change. Scientologists had provoked Anons by removing an embarrassing and, to the Anons, hilarious video of Tom Cruise from the Internet, and the Anons thought it would be funny to get back at them by standing around outside their centers wearing masks and shouting insults.

As for Housh himself, he had hardly lived the life of a typical activist. When in his twenties, he was arrested for helping to run a software piracy group, and spent three months in a maximum-security prison. This was just one episode in what he described as a long history of criminal mischief.

Within about two weeks of the first protesters descending on Wall Street, however, he was spending nearly every day at the Occupy Boston site, where he quickly fell into a central logistical and public relations role, talking to reporters, city officials and unions -- and, indeed, rubbing shoulders with none other than Cornel West, that prominent and cufflinked icon of progressivism.

"I've gone from not caring about anything at all but myself to pretty much a full-time activist," he said on the phone recently, sounding a bit surprised. "And I'm pretty happy with the transformation. It feels good to care about the world."



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