Detailed within a video released by the hacking collective known as Anonymous, the hackers are targeting members of the Westboro Baptist Church after representatives of the church announced that they will be picketing a vigil at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In addition, members of the Westboro Baptist Church announced plans to picket at least one funeral for the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting and members of the Phelps family are tweeting that the cause of the shooting is related to the legalization of same-sex marriage around the United States. The Westboro Baptist Church is most well-known for picketing funerals of members of the military that were killed in action.
As a swift response to the statements regarding picketing within Newtown, members of Anonymous quickly started attacking the Westboro Baptist Church official site in order to bring it offline. In addition, Anonymous updated and republished the personal information of the alleged members affiliated with the Westboro Baptist Church.
This includes names, email addresses, dates of birth, home and work phone numbers, the home addresses of the members and the relationships between the members of the group. Anonymous did not release details related to how they located this personal information, but previously called the release #OPWestboro.
Within the video message, the voice over states “From the time you have received this message, our attack protocol has past been executed and your downfall is underway. Do not attempt to delude yourselves into thinking you can escape our reach, for we are everywhere, and all-seeing, in the same sense as God. We are a body of individuals who fight for a purpose higher than self, and seek to bring the malevolent intent of the malefactors to light. We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred. We will not allow you to inspire aggression to the social factions which you deem inferior. We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.”
This isn’t the first time Anonymous has attacked the Westboro Baptist Church. During early 2011, the group took down the Westboro Baptist Church site during a live, televised interview between Shirley Phelps-Roper and a member of Anonymous.
While Anonymous has been busy attacking the Westboro Baptist Church, petitions attempting to classify the organization as a hate group have been created on the official White House site. The petition titled “Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group,” has gathered over 83,000 signatures since the creation on December 14.
The description of the petition states “This group has been recognized as a hate group by organizations, such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, and has repeatedly displayed the actions typical of hate groups. Their actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians. They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.”
In addition, a second petition attempting to accomplish the same goal has attracted over 18,000 signatures. Any petition that gains over 25,000 signatures within a month will be reviewed by the White House and an official response will be issued on the matter.