Roughly 150 Anonymous members, many wearing Guy Fawkes masks, costumes and otherwise shielding their identities, gathered at the intersection of Beacon and Hereford streets, where the Boston church headquarters is located.
Fawkes was involved in a 1605 plot in England to blow up King James I and the Parliament.
The costumed protesters held signs urging passers-by to educate themselves about Scientology and what the demonstrators said were the church’s abusive practices.
They protested Scientology’s “disconnection” policy, which the Anonymous group said separates church members from family and friends who are nonbelievers.
As cars drove by honking, the crowd cheered in response. A few church members watched the demonstration from the windows of their headquarters. “Education is a hate crime in Scientology,” said a demonstrator who used the name Patty Pieniadz. “Education, exposing is the only way to go.”
Members say Anonymous has grown from a small band of Internet hackers and pranksters into an international organization, with no leader and no names. Members said it was the group’s third international protest. A previous protest brought out 10,000 demonstrators in 100 cities, they said.
Scientology has addressed Anonymous’ claims on a Web site, Anonymous-exposed.org. The site says “the church has not interacted with these €˜Anonymous’ individuals nor does it desire to,” which was evidenced yesterday by a police detail in front of the church.
“The kids in the neighborhood are frightened. That’s why I hired some police,” said the church’s Rev. Gerard Renna. Church member Kevin Hall said anti-Scientology demonstrations are always a concern. “When you’re throwing hate out there, some crazy’s going to do something,” he said.
But Anonymous’ Hub organizer, who identified himself as “Greg,” insisted that the group is peaceful. “We just want justice,” he said. “They have all these policies we’d love to see go away.”
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