Early July 2016 saw a week of high-profile shootings involving police the United States: On 5 July 2016, Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the following day, Philando Castile was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in Minnesota; and the day after that a sniper shot and killed five police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas.
Soon afterwards, a rumor began circulating that the hacktivist group Anonymous was now calling for a nationwide Day of Rage protests on 15 July 2016 as a response to those incidents:
There’s a war in America right now. Black vs. white. Citizen vs. police officer. Race grievances have become an industry, and business is booming.
The rage is boiling over across the nation. First, videos emerged that showed the graphic deaths of two black men at the hands of police, with what appears (at least on the videos) to be no reason. Protests erupted over these deaths, and then they became violent as one man shot 11 police officers and 2 citizens at a rally in Dallas, Texas, killing 5. That sparked a war on law enforcement officers and a nationwide spree of violence against cops. Some people are even more extreme, declaring open season on white people in general.
But it’s about to get even worse.
The hacktivist group claiming to be Anonymous is now calling for nationwide Day of Rage protests on Friday, July 15th. This video is NOT on the official Anonymous YouTube channel. The video below promotes the protests.(WARNING: There is some disturbing and graphic violence in this video.)
To those inclined to question the likelihood that an actual "Day of Rage" is being planned by Anonymous, we note that this rumor is virtually identical to one that was circulated two years earlier after the shooting of teenager Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. As we pointed out back then, one of the key aspects of Anonymous is its amorphous nature and overall lack of central organization; as such, anyone can initiate an Anonymous "operation," and none is ever officially sanctioned by any particular portion of the collective:
Anonymous has no leaders. Anonymous is not organized by anyone. Anonymous can be anything, or it can be nothing at all.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) August 20, 2014
As in 2014, Anonymous disclaimed again in 2016 that any such protests were being organized by anyone representative of that collective:
The call to demonstrate back in August 2014 was said to be a response to the ongoing protests and unrest in Ferguson, with one Twitter account, @OpFerguson, live-tweeting events and calls to action relating to the controversy. Often, actions linked to Anonymous are codenamed with a hashtag and given an "operation" title to organize activity for those who support the group and its initiatives. While the loose organizational structure of Anonymous actions allows for a level of unpredictability, the @OpFerguson Twitter account had more than 28,000 followers and appeared to be a larger and more cohesive mouthpiece for Anonymous operatives supporting Ferguson protests. The rumors of a "Day of Rage" of August 2014 were circulated for quite a while in advance of that date, and the @OpFerguson Twitter account denied any involvement in planning or calling for such an action several days beforehand:
In addition to the @OpFerguson account, the larger and more "official" account @YourAnonNews made no mention of nationwide "Day of Rage" protest calls to action. However, the Twitter feed of @YourAnonNews posted the following tweet on 20 August 2014:
Anonymous does nothing for recognition. Anonymous is a concept, not a group. Don't forget that.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) August 20, 2014
Versions of e-mails and social media posts warning Americans about potential "Day of Rage" protests or unrest in 2014 and 2016 were linked to posts naming cities and locations where the protesters were scheduled to gather (which in most 2016 iterations was identical to the 2014 version save for a change of date):
EMERGENCY PR: NATIONAL DAY OF RAGE
DATE: THURSDAY, AUGUST 21 2014
7PM ET, 6PM CT, 5PM MT, 4PM PT
Phoenix: 5:00PM (EASTLAKE PARK, 1549 E Jefferson St , Phoenix, AZ 85034)
Tuscon: 5:00PM (CATALINA PARK, 900 N 4th Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85705)
Little Rock: 6:00PM (OUTSIDE STATE CAPITOL BUILDING, Dr Martin Luther King Jr Dr., Little Rock, AR 72201)
San Francisco: 4:00PM (CIVIC CENTER PLAZA, 355 Mcallister St, San Francisco, California 94102)
Oakland: 4:00PM (FRANK OGAWA PLAZA, 1 Frank H Ogawa Plaza, Oakland, CA 94612)
Los Angeles: 4:00PM (LEIMERT PLAZA PARK, 4395 Leimert Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008)
Denver: 5:00PM (CIVIC CENTER PARK, 100 W 14th Ave Pkwy, Denver, Colorado 80204)
Washington DC: 7:00PM (OUTSIDE WHITE HOUSE, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500)
Atlanta: 7:00PM (OLD DECATUR COURTHOUSE, 101 E Court Sq, Decatur, GA 30030)
Tampa: 7:00PM (OUTSIDE HILLSBOROUGH COURTHOUSE, 800 E Twiggs St, Tampa, FL)
Orlando: 7:00PM (LAKE EOLA PARK, 195 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801)
Miami: 7:00PM (GWEN CHERRY PARK, NW 71 St., Miami, Florida, 33147)
Chicago: 6:00PM (RICHARD J DALEY CENTER, 50 W Washington St, Chicago, Illinois 60602)
Des Moines: 6:00PM (IOWA STATE CAPITOL, 1007 E Grand Ave, Des Moines, IA 50319)
New Orleans: 6:00PM (LAFAYETTE SQUARE, New Orleans, LA 70130)
Baltimore: 7:00PM (201 E Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21202)
Boston: 7:00PM (MASSACHUSETTS STATE HOUSE, 24 Beacon St, Boston, MA 01233)
Detroit: 7:00PM (HART PLAZA, One Hart Plaza, Detroit, Michigan 48226)
Lansing: 7:00PM (STATE CAPITOL BUILDING, Capitol Avenue at Michigan Avenue, Lansing, MI 48933)
Ann Arbor: 7:00PM (THE DIAG, Burns Park, Ann Arbor, MI 48109)
Minneapolis: 6:00PM (MINNEAPOLIS URBAN LEAGUE, 2100 Plymouth Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55411)
St. Louis: 6:00PM (GATEWAY ARCH, St. Louis 63102)
Carson City: 4:00PM (NEVADA STATE CAPITOL BUILDING, 101 N Carson St, Carson City, Nevada 89701)
Manhattan, NY: 7:00PM (TIMES SQUARE, Manhattan, NY, 10036)
Newark: 7:00PM (NEWARK CITY HALL, 920 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey 07102)
Durham: 7:00PM (200 E. Main St. Durham, North Carolina)
Columbus: 7:00PM (GOODALE PARK, Columbus, Ohio 43215)
Cleveland: 7:00PM (CLEVELAND PUBLIC LIBRARY, 325 Superior Ave E, Cleveland, Ohio 44114)
Portland: 4:00PM (PIONEER COURTHOUSE SQUARE, 701 SW 6th Ave, Portland, Oregon 97204)
Philadelphia: 7:00PM (LOVE PARK, 1599 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19102)
Pittsburgh: 7:00PM (PITTSBURGH CITY-COUNTY BUILDING, 414 Grant St, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219)
Nashville: 6:00PM (801 Broadway Nashville, TN 37203 Estes Kefauver Federal Building)
Memphis: 6:00PM (Health Sciences Park Memphis, TN)
Austin: 6:00PM (TEXAS STATE CAPITOL, Outside South Gate-11th and Congress Ave.)
Salt Lake City: 5:00PM (SALT LAKE CITY COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 4600 S Redwood Rd, Salt Lake City, Utah 84123)
Seattle: 4:00PM (QUEEN ANNE BAPTIST CHURCH, 2011 1st Ave N, Seattle, Washington 98109)
Milwaukee: 5:00PM (DINEEN PARK, Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
IF YOUR CITY IS NOT LISTED, MAKE A FACEBOOK EVENT FOR IT NOW.
Also as in 2016, a video message frequently accompanied the list of cities circulated in 2014:
It's virtually impossible to say who specifically began "Day of Rage" rumors calling for protests across the U.S. in August 2014. However, no one appeared to actually be organizing or endorsing the actions mentioned in such rumors