100 turn out in Orlando, Florida for "Anonymous" protest against Church of Scientology

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Monday, February 4, 2008

A protest against the Church of Scientology organized by the Internet-based group "Anonymous" held in Orlando, Florida drew 100 people on Saturday.

The group "Anonymous" formed a movement called Project Chanology in response to what it views as suppression of freedom of speech on the Internet by the Church of Scientology. The group was initially motivated by the Church of Scientology's attempts to remove a promotional video featuring Scientologist Tom Cruise from the Internet. The Church of Scientology issued legal complaints to YouTube and to Gawker.com; YouTube took the video down, but Gawker has refused to do so.

Project Chanology participants successfully took down several Scientology websites in mid-January utilizing denial-of-service attacks. The group has organized a series of nonviolent protests to take place outside Church of Scientology centers worldwide on February 10, 2008. There are expected to be at least 217 protests taking place on the 10th outside Church of Scientology buildings around the globe, including New York City, Montreal, Houston, London, Melbourne, and Los Angeles.

Project Chanology members protesting outside Church of Scientology in Orlando, Florida on February 2, 2008.
Image: oofabz.

Protestors at the Orlando, Florida rally held signs with messages including "Knowledge is Free Scientology Isn't", "Who Is Lisa McPherson?", "www.xenu.net", and "Honk if you hate Scientology." An unnamed organizer of the rally told the Orlando Sentinel that the group is protesting "a gross violation of the right to see free church material," referring to the Tom Cruise video the Church of Scientology attempted to suppress. According to WKMG-TV, protestors claim the Church of Scientology is a "dangerous cult" and said the organization is responsible for crimes and deaths.

Dr. Lee Sheldon of the Church of Scientology of Orlando released a statement regarding the protests: "While we recognize the right to legal protest, when such protest escalates to spreading lies and hate speech, it is a concern for everyone. We look forward to continuing to provide service to the city of Orlando and Central Florida."

According to a post from a protestor to the online newsgroup alt.religion.scientology, Scientologists complained to the police during the protest that the event should be shut down for advocating "hate speech", but the Orlando Sentinel reported that police monitored the event and made no arrests.

Cquote1.svg ...everything looked peaceful and I want to say nice job and I hope everything goes as smoothly on February 10th. Cquote2.svg

Mark Bunker, XenuTV.com

Mark Bunker of XenuTV.com had previously criticized Project Chanology for the denial-of-service attacks against Scientology websites, but in a YouTube video post on Sunday, Bunker spoke positively of Saturday's nonviolent protest in Florida. "I saw a video today from Orlando and there were a hundred and fifty people out on Saturday to protest and it looked like a lot of fun. Got a lot of car honks and everything looked peaceful and I want to say nice job and I hope everything goes as smoothly on February 10th. I have to say a hundred and fifty people in Orlando that's pretty impressive. Can't wait to see what happens at other cities around the country and around the world actually."


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Wikinews
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Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikipedia Learn more about Scientology and the Internet and Project Chanology on Wikipedia.
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