What would happen your name or business suddenly appeared on a list that purported to out members of the KKK? An accounting firm in New York City knows the answer all too well: you receive a stream of hateful and threatening calls from strangers who pulled the list, allegedly posted by hactivist group Anonymous, off the internet.
Except, Anonymous didn’t post the list of purported KKK members and the employees at KK Mehta in Garden City, run by five partners of Indian descent, say they hadn’t even heard of the KKK until the phone started ringing, the Washington Post reported.
“We don’t know anything about these people,” one of those partners, who asked to have his name withheld, told the Post. “We have nothing to do with all of this.”
They’re afraid the threats will escalate, since one of the calls came from New York, and they’ve been advised by their attorney, Vinson Friedman, to call the police.
“They’re scared,” he said.
Trouble is, the receptionist at KK Mehta has to keep answering the phone in case a client is on the other end, meaning she’s had to listen to a lot of threatening and “very nasty” calls. The trouble over at this harmless accounting firm is just an example of what happens in the real world when people are linked to the KKK — or any other hate group, for that matter — without verification.
And Anonymous still plans to move forward with its own list Thursday.
A group claiming allegiance to Anonymous posted names, emails, and phone numbers of accused KKK members on Sunday to a text and computer code sharing and storing site called PasteBin, days before Anonymous itself threatened to do the same on November 5.
These supposed KKK members so far include numbers that are publicly available and not personal or residential. Among them: a credit counseling service, 800-number for a Sheriff’s office in Florida, office number for Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Democratic National Committee number set up for donations, the number for a newspaper, and the University of Illinois archives. Some numbers are linked to the KKK, but are listed on its web site or are public hotlines for KKK chapters.
The archive center in Illinois believes their name came up on the supposed Anonymous because of its research activity, staff told the Guardian.
“Five or six years ago we did some research to find more about this group. We prepared a FAQ they posted on the website. Maybe they found it and put two and two together and got six.”
Another list, released by a hacker with no association with Anonymous, named four U.S. Senators and several city mayors as KKK members or sympathizers. They, and plenty of others, have vehemently denied any association with the KKK.
One of those people is Lexington, Kentucky, Mayor Jim Gray, who told USA Today that the appearance of his name was “false, insulting and ridiculous.”
“I have never had any relationship of any kind with the KKK. I am opposed to everything it stands for. I have no idea where this information came from, but wherever it came from, it is wrong.”
Anonymous has also denied responsibility for the leak of apparently fake and unverified names. Anonymous previously announced that it would release the identities of 1,000 KKK members whose names were parsed from a compromised Twitter account on November 5 with the hashtag #HoodsOff.
Anonymous even released an official statement denying their involvement and promising to continue their own initiative as planned.
“We did not release this list … and we do not vouch for the content of any work we did not complete ourselves. (Anonymous will) vouch ONLY for the dox list that will be released from this Twitter account on November 5 2015.”
Of course, there’s no certainty that the information Anonymous will be verifiable, either.
What do you think? Should Anonymous go ahead and release their list, too? Or is the act too dangerous to people accused, but not proven, to be associated with the KKK?
[Photo By Spencer Platt / Getty Images]