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Anonymous squashes Westboro plan to picket Aaron Swartz funeral

The infamous "church" failed to carry through on its protest of the funeral yesterday following a call to action by Anonymous.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Twitter/Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Anonymous may have convinced the Westboro Baptist Church to cancel its planned protest of the funeral of Aaron Swartz.

A day after the news came out that the 26-year-old online activist had committed suicide, the members of WBC stated their intention to picket his funeral, which took place yesterday.

A press release on the group's Web site and Twitter feed revealed the location of the funeral and said: "Cyber criminals are the latest face of this nation's and this world's raging at God and His Servants at WBC. When you raging rebels give these cyber criminals encouragement in their crimes against WBC, God turns their crimes on you. What to do? Now the gloves are off, cyber rebels!"

The WBC's picket schedule no longer lists Swartz's funeral. But the picket notice was posted by the Atlantic Wire.

"WBC will picket a lawful distance from this fag, Jew bastard whose entire life was an assault against God," the group proclaimed in the notice, adding that "WBC rejoices when we see God's vengeance upon our enemies."

Apparently, those threats didn't sit well with the hackers behind Anonymous, who quickly launched their own campaign dubbed "Operation Angel."

As part of the campaign, the hacktivist group asked people to come to the funeral to form a human shield to protect mourners from WBC's protest, the Atlantic Wire reported.

Further, in a video posted on YouTube, Anonymous outlined other goals behind Operation Angel. The group said it wants to facilitate the flow of information about WBC and encouraged people, including law enforcement officials, to forward any intel on WBC to an Operation Angel e-mail address.

Did WBC call off the picket because of Anonymous? It's hard to know for sure, but it seems like a possibility.

A tweet posted by Anonymous said the church's lawyer contacted police to inform them that WBC would not hold the protest.

In its video, Anonymous also apologized to Swartz's family and friends, saying it's likely the group's attacks against the WBC are the reason the church targeted him.

Anonymous has tangled with the WBC before.

Last month, the WBC announced plans to picket the funerals of the children killed in the Sandy Hook school shootings. In response, Anonymous hacked the group's Web site and revealed the names and personal information of many of its members.