The Million Mask March will be descending on the Mountain State on Nov. 5 to coincide with events around the world. The peaceful protest planned by the online collective Anonymous is hoping to bring attention to what members believe are the biggest problems facing the U.S.
A West Virginia Anonymous member who goes by the name of Eve is helping organize the Charleston rally, set for 8 a.m. at the state capitol Nov. 5. She is hoping for a large turnout to help push for positive change.
According to www.millionmaskmarch.org, as of Friday, there are 352 events planned worldwide on Nov. 5.
"It is a peaceful protest. We are calling for change," Eve told The Inter-Mountain via email. "It is the hope of Anonymous to remind this world what it has forgotten, that fairness, justice and freedom are more than just words. We are coming together as a show of solidarity."
The online group has no central leadership and makes decisions based on who is online at any given time. Eve said she was not speaking for the group itself, because it has no leaders, but she wanted to draw attention to the cause.
She said members of the group - known as "Anons" - may not agree on every issue, but plan to focus on education reform, Constitutional rights, government corruption and violence worldwide. The recent federal government shutdown will also be addressed.
"To many Anons, this shutdown was yet another symbol of a broken system," she said. "A cry for reform! Many of us think it's shameful, Congress collecting paychecks, minus those select few who donated theirs to charities during shut down, while so many were furloughed.
"We shut down forests, and national monuments. To what end? Was hurting the economy worth it?"
Anonymous is shrouded in secrecy, with members seldom knowing others in the organization. The secrecy helps protect the activists in the group and to keep their identities hidden from authorities. Anonymous is known to use computer hacking and other means to share information. Several members have been arrested in the past for hacking during different "operations."
"This is a demonstration that shows there is power in numbers - and we are legion," Eve said. "It is my personal hope that this event shows every disillusioned person that by standing together, we can garner the attention of the 'powers that be.'"
Anonymous often describes themselves as a legion. There are members from all over the globe and operations have taken place throughout the world.
A rally is also planned in Morgantown on Nov. 5. Occupy Morgantown is slated to begin at 8 a.m. at the Monongalia County Courthouse. The event will include both Anonymous and Occupy protestors.
The biggest U.S. rally will be in Washington D.C., but Anonymous is encouraging those with like-minded views to organize events near their hometowns. Those attending the rallies will wear Guy Fawkes masks, the members' way of concealing their identities. The mask movement became popular after the 2005 film "V for Vendetta" in which the hero wears a similar mask.
Guy Fawkes was a key figure in the Gunpowder Treason Plot on Nov. 5, 1605. Fawkes and a group of plotters planned on assassinating King James I of England, but failed. In "V for Vendetta," a corrupt government has seized control of contemporary Britain. The hero wears a Guy Fawkes mask and the story follows his plot to mobilize a British revolt. The final scenes of the movie show thousands of British residents gathering at Parliament to make the final push for change.
Eve explained that Anonymous is an "idea."
"We are human rights activists. Anonymous is a collective," she said. "We are concerned citizens who believe in helping people. We are the People."
She said she originally intended to attend the main event in Washington D.C., but changed her mind when speaking to a friend.
"My original intent was nothing more than to attend the main march in D.C. Sitting in my best friend's living room one day, the two of us were discussing how we wished there was more activity locally," she said. "That was the day that really changed my life. I picked up the mantle, and put on the mask."
Eve said she always was a silent supporter of Anonymous, but after sitting with her friend, she decided to step up.
"I stopped participating from the sidelines, and started really advocating for change," she said. "I wish to make clear that there are no central leaders in Anonymous, only great minds that inspire others to action - which is what has happened here. I am an organizer, and an advocate. I am a human rights activist. I am no one's leader. I hope only to inspire others to believe in change; to move them to action, in the same way other Anons have inspired me."
"Eve" hopes the march will help end what she sees as apathy in the American people.
"It seems to me that the general public is sleeping," she said. "We are being spoon-fed misinformation, and most just don't care about the truth."
Eve said several questions seem to keep creeping to the forefront.
"What is in the food we're eating? Why are we always at war? Why is it that people are working full time jobs, and are unable to pay the bills? Why can't we have affordable health care?
" I want people to think! I don't need them to think like me," she said. "I just want them to wake up enough to start asking questions - and, most importantly, to start looking for their own answers"
Eve is asking for people to attend one of the rallies, or to plan their own event.
"I encourage everyone to join us," she said. "If you cannot join us in Charleston, start your own in your city."
Eve said the protests are meant to be peaceful, and urges anyone organizing an event to make sure everything is done legally.
"This is a peaceful protest," she said. "No weapons and no drugs."
Eve said a wealth of information can be found online if people want to get involved.
"The internet can be used for educational purposes," she said. "Find us on Facebook!"
Eve said she hopes people will take the time to do research and make a decision based on their own feelings.
"Some of us know that fairness, justice and freedom are more than just words," she said.
"We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us."
- Contact Anthony Gaynor by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at IMT_Gaynor.