Activist Says LGBT Protest Over Leaked Linton Johnson Photos Called Off
Update Monday 8:50 a.m. On KQED Radio’s Forum at 9:30 a.m., a discussion on the dissemination of the Linton Johnson photos as they relate to the ethics of hacking.
Update Monday: Chris Andoe, who was organizing the LGBT counter-protest, posted this in our comments section over the weekend:
LGBT DISPUTE WITH ANONYMOUS TENTATIVELY SETTLED. COUNTER-DEMONSTRATION CANCELLED.
San Francisco, CA August 28, 2011
Monday’s counter-demonstration against Anonymous by members of the LGBT Community has been cancelled after Anonymous made assurances that they have no malice against LGBT people.
While many people speak for Anonymous we have been told the group was largely against the release of the Linton Johnson photos, and that they are not planning any similar tactics (sexual images) in the future.
Some community leaders, such as La Mesha Irizarry of the Idriss Stelley Foundation are skeptical but had grave safety concerns for demonstrators. “A counter protest pinning commuters against protesters is itself a dangerous, unstable mix” said Irizarry.
The LGBT group had planned to demonstrate alongside the “Commuters Take Back Bart” group, which is still planning to demonstrate.
Lead organizers will be at the Civic Center in the event community members who aren’t aware of the cancellation show up to demonstrate.
You can read here the online debate that went on over this planned action, including the back-and-forth between Andoe and some Anonymouses.
Also, related to this topic, Matier & Ross’ column in the Chronicle on Sunday:
Last week’s online posting of partially nude photos of BART spokesman Linton Johnson – in apparent response to the transit agency’s cutting off cell phone service Aug. 11 to avert a protest in downtown San Francisco – has Johnson’s spouse furious.
“These are blatantly homophobic and racist attacks from what I’ve seen,” Jeffrey Johnson, Linton’s partner of 12 years, told us Friday…”I’m not sure where those photos came from,” Jeffrey Johnson said, insisting they were not from the couple’s Facebook pages.
However they were released, Jeffrey Johnson says gay and African American friends with whom he has talked are just as angry as he is. And judging from the calls we’ve received, at least some of them plan to be downtown during Monday evening’s BART commute to greet another planned Anonymous protest with their own counterdemonstration.
KQED’s Mina Kim today spoke to Chris Andoe, a San Francisco-based LGBT activist who says he is rallying the LGBT community to join a counter-protest on Monday to what anti-BART organizers have threatened will be a weekly action. A series of protests against the transit agency have disrupted commutes in recent weeks.
Andoe says he was spurred to action by the leaking this week of partially nude private photos of BART spokesman Linton Johnson, who has drawn the fury of the loosely knit hacker group Anonymous for suggesting and then defending BART’s disabling of cell-phone service to disrupt a planned protest that never materialized.
Andoe labeled the tactic of disseminating the photos, by someone affiliating with Anonymous, as “gay-baiting,” and says many in the LGBT community who were ambivalent or supportive of the recent actions against BART have now swung the other way.
Here’s the interview, below; an edited transcript follows the audio.
Andoe: I was ambivalent at most about the protest. I was troubled by the shooting in Oakland in particular. What made me align with the angry commuters was the recent gay-baiting sexual terrorist type tactics that were used against BART spokesperson Linton Johnson.
What was your reaction when you saw that?
I think a lot of us in the gay community thought of it as a declaration of war against us. A lot of us had really been ambivalent at best about the protest. Or supported the protest. But when they came out and used the tactics of right wingers like Andrew Breitbart or Karl Rove or something we were just shocked. This is San Francisco. What they were trying to do was delegitimize this man for being gay. Very few of the photos were sexually explicit, most of them were of him clowning around at a gay bar with glow sticks or glitter, hanging on guys. And then they promoted his personal web site, which had his gay marriage photos and vacation pictures. This had nothing to do with anything.
But if their goal was not to discredit him for merely being gay, then what was that? It’s obvious that’s what they were doing.
Are you planning on taking part in a counter protest on Monday?
I am and I know a lot of others in the community that will be joining me out there. These tactics have basically swung many in the community to the other side. We’re outraged that in this enlightened city this is the tactic they decided to take.
Are you helping to organize the protest?
The protest was already planned by the commuters’ group. What I’m doing is helping to organize the LGBT community to join with that group.
How many people so far who share your view may be out there with you?
I think there’s going to be a significant number. This just happened. Wednesday was the shot across the bow that took us all by surprise so I don’t know how many we’re going to get this first time. But the tide has strongly shifted. Just from a tactical perspective, this was a monumental error for them to take this kind of approach in targeting someone the way they targeted Mr. Johnson.
Are you concerned about reprisals from Anonymous?
Absolutely, I think there’s a strong risk. They obviously have no scruples, so yes; I do realize that I’m putting myself at risk to be hacked. They are masked – that’s their whole point, that they’re operating in secret. So it is very dangerous to oppose them; I feel most people do understand that so I don’t know how that will affect turnout.
But you are wiling to take that risk…
I feel like it’s absolutely necessary. The people have got to stand up to this. I was outraged with the Anthony Wiener thing that happened. I’m outraged when the right wing does this and I’m outraged when these far left protesters do it. I think it’s the wrong way to go about things, to single out an individual and try to destroy them based on sexual orientation using gay baiting tactics or sexual terrorism. It’s a bizarre approach for them to take. But when those types of things happen, especially in this world-class city we live in, we have to take a stand against it.