A member or members of the hacker activist group Anonymous published a series of photos allegedly showing the spokesman for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system with his genitals exposed, conveying a simple message in protest: “If you are going to be a dick to the public, then Im sure you don’t mind showing your dick to the public. Umad Bro?”
“I condemn anyone who attacks an individual and invades their privacy,” a BART spokeswoman told Huffington Post. “This is not only unethical, but illegal. And that is all I have to say about that.”
The photos, allegedly showing BART Chief Communications Officer Linton Johnson, were posted last night on a website that now appears to have been taken down. In the photos, the subject is seen pulling down his shorts to expose his genitals to another man. Another shows him shirtless and spotted with glitter, wearing armbands and holding glowsticks. A third is pictured in this story, featuring a slight edit from the hackers.
They also published a cell phone number and personal email address allegedly belonging to Johnson.
The release came right as BART officials were discussing their communications policy, and specifically whether it is appropriate to shut down their cellular receivers ahead of planned protests.
Release of the photos was the source of some consternation among members of Anonymous, with apparent disagreements emerging on several official channels, including the #OpBART chatroom. Some members of the group did not want the images published for fear of what it would do to the image of Anonymous, and not wanting to seem like they were attacking Linton for being a homosexual.
Ultimately, another member of Anonymous commandeered the group’s messaging and insisted that they would “*ABSOLUTELY* not be releasing the information we received on Linton.”
A short time thereafter, the photos were released anyway.
Johnson was targeted ostensibly because he has taken credit for the idea to shut down the BART systems’ cellular receivers ahead of a planned protest nearly two weeks ago. The protest fizzled because organizers were unable to coordinate with participants from inside the BART stations, but Johnson’s plan backfired in the media due to its similarity to actions taken by middle eastern dictators, eager to stem the tide of protests in their nations — a contrast which clearly helped to galvanize the protesters.
Another round of protest took place a week later, on Monday, August 22, that resulted in about 40 arrests. Only 100 or so people showed up, and they were outnumbered by police and journalists on the scene. Previous protests have also resulted in numerous arrests, as BART has banned protesting on the train platforms, citing safety concerns.
Anonymous and other local groups in the Bay area are protesting BART’s policing methods, and a number of killings that have taken place in recent years, which many viewed as an excessive use of violence
Another protest is scheduled for Monday, August 29.
Correction: A prior version of this story cited a “senior member” of Anonymous, but the group insists it has no leaders.