Following the suicide of Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz, hacktivist group Anonymous vowed to halt picketing efforts of the Westboro Baptist Church. The church was threatening to picket the funeral of Swartz on Tuesday. Members of the group Anonymous along with other supporters arrived to prevent a picket, but no one from the church was to be found.
In a press release called “GOD H8S Cyber Criminal THUGS,” Westboro Baptist Church said the following:
“Cyber criminals are the latest face of this nation’s and this world’s raging at God and His Servants at WBC. Now the gloves are off, cyber rebels! … We will picket the funeral, the LORD willing, so that in that Great Day of His Wrath, your blood is not on our hands.”
A large crowd arrived at the funeral home, located in Highland Park, Illinois, to protect the funeral procession from members of the Westboro Baptist Church. A lawyer for the church contacted police to let them know that they would not be protesting the funeral.
A video was posted to YouTube by ChannelZeroYT11 that said Anonymous would block attempts of Westboro Baptist Church to picket the funeral.
“Before discussing the operation, there is something that needs to be said to Aaron’s family and his friends: We’re sorry,” says the Anonymous statement. “It is likely that our continuous condemnation and attacks against this cult is the very reason Aaron is being targeted by them. We would do anything to stop them from attending Aaron’s services. Aaron deserves peace and we will not allow this cult to overpower what should be the media’s focus, the monsters at DOJ who ruthlessly targeted your son.”
Swartz committed suicide on January 11 and had been charged with felony hacking for allegedly stealing five million academic articles from JSTOR. In September of 2012 he pled not guilty, but still faced a possible sentence of prison time.