Two weeks ago, Cornel West, Princeton professor and activist, showed up at a tent city erected by Occupy Wall Street protesters across the street from the Federal Reserve building in Boston. As he finished delivering an impromptu speech, a man who had been standing off to the side leaned in and gave him a hug. He was in his mid-thirties, with gray-dusted hair, a round face and dimples. Most people who witnessed this moment probably didn’t think anything of it — but then, most people aren’t familiar with the faces of the online movement known Anonymous.
The man was Gregg Housh, an Internet technology consultant and one of the few people associated with Anonymous whose real name is known to the public. Housh occupies a special place in Anonymous lore. In 2008, he was among a small group of “Anons” who came up with the idea of releasing a video that declared war on the Church of Scientology, which in turn led to thousands of people protesting outside of Scientology centers around the world and heralded the moment when Anonymous first coalesced into something resembling a political movement.