Anonymous protest against former hacktivist draws about 20

A handful of protesters got rowdy in front of New York City’s Crosby Street Hotel Saturday, heeding the hacktivist group Anonymous’ call for a protest against a former member.

But they never saw him. Hector “Sabu” Monsegur, scheduled to speak at the second day of the Suits and Spooks security conference in the hotel, arrived early and used a different entrance.

Monsegur, a former ringleader of Anonymous splinter groups AntiSec and LulzSec, was caught in 2011 and cooperated with the FBI in hopes of a reduced sentence. The sentencing judge cited Monsegur’s cooperation in the FBI investigation into his former colleague, Jeremy Hammond, as reason for leniency.

Hammond is currently serving a 10-year sentence for his role in AntiSec’s now legendary hack into Stratfor, a for-profit intelligence service often contracted by government agencies.

The protesters had already achieved one major disruption, convincing Suits and Spooks’ original venue, the SoHo House, to deny the event, forcing director Jeffrey Carr to move it to Crosby Street.

While Monsegur spoke inside, though, things were quiet. Two protesters wore shirts saying “Fuck Sabu, Free Jeremy Hammond.” Roughly a dozen people, though at one point their ranks swelled to nearly 20, stood outside the hotel—talking to each other, checking their phones and smoking cigarettes. There was no chanting, no signs, and no voices louder than a calm conversation, and nobody wore the trademark Guy Fawkes mask. Security looked on at the protest from inside the hotel, checking their wristwatches.

But as the time for Monsegur’s talk came and went without sight of him, some protesters walked into the hotel lobby and ordered drinks from the bar. Eventually, they were asked to leave the hotel and were escorted out by security. As things started to wind down, four NYPD officers and hotel security escorted Monsegur into a van through a back exit, and asked the protesters to leave.

Some claimed there’d been a bomb threat called in to the hotel. But security denied that. “There was absolutely no bomb threat, and we would have evacuated if that was the case,” a member of Crosby Street’s security staff, who requested his name not be used in this story, told the Daily Dot.

Illustration by Max Fleishman

William Turton

William Turton

Once named one of Forbes’ 20 Under 20 and hired as a staff writer for the Daily Dot when he was still a senior in high school, William Turton is a rising tech reporter focusing on information security, hacking culture, and politics. Since leaving the Daily Dot in April 2016, his work has appeared on Gizmodo, the Outline, and Vice News Tonight on HBO.