Today around the globe, thousands of members of the internet group 'Anonymous' staged protests in major cities of the Church of Scientology. A movement that began with the posting of a bizarre video of Tom Cruise praising Scientology that was posted on Youtube and the request from the Church of Scientology that the video be removed due to copyright reasons. In response to the Church's actions, an online group claiming over 9000 members and calling itself Anonymous posted a creepy video response on Youtube, which called for the destruction of the Church for denying the freedom of speech. Members of the group led attacks of various Scientology related websites through Denial of Service Requests, which overloads a website with data. They also reportedly sent black faxes and prank phone calls to Scientology offices.
Members of the group, many of whom later renounced the attacks on the web services, teamed up with more hardened activists who have been protesting the Church for years and planned a serious of protests in multiple cities on February 10th. Anonymous attracted hundreds of activists in Sydney, Melbourne, London and various cities across North America including New York, Washington DC, Toronto and Los Angeles. Often battling the bitter cold, large groups of these protesters gathered outside Scientology Centers in these cities with signs and fliers laying out their complaints against the church. Many wore masks, citing past harassment of members of the media and public who spoke out against the church. February 10th was chosen, activists said, in memorial of the birthday of Lisa Mcpherson, a young women who died in 1995 in the care of Church officials.
Few officials of the Church of Scientology were seen at the site of the protests, although some were reportedly taking pictures of and filming the protesters. Often the buildings were closed down and emptied for the day. The protests were generally peaceful, with hired off-duty police officers monitoring the buildings in response to the large numbers expected. Members of 'Anonymous' said that they were planning additional protests on March 15th, soon after the birthday of L. Ron. Hubbard, a science fiction writer who founded the Church.