The Conversation

Member of Anonymous Accused of 2012 Rape at Occupy Camp

A protester from the St. Paul's Occupy camp in the UK has accused a member of the Anonymous hacker collective of raping her on two occasions in the camp.

45 year old Malcolm Blackman, described as a member of Anonymous UK and a strong character within the camp, is currently facing trial for the allegations, made by an unnamed South London woman.

From behind a screen to protect her identity, the woman recounted the first of two alleged incidents for a jury.

She told the jury that when they were kissing in her tent on January 14 last year, Blackman suddenly slipped ties over her wrists and pushed her to the floor.

“He pulled my hands behind me, grabbed hold of my arms and put something around my wrists and tied them very tightly,” she said.

“I told him he'd hurt me, but he didn't seem bothered, he just said next time we'll have to use a code word. I just got dressed and lay there crying.”

A week later, she said she woke up inside her tent to find him "forcing himself on her."

When pressed by the defense attorney, the woman described her fears about coming forward.

“I was scared of how he would react if I told anyone,” she said.

“I had seen him get angry with other people in the camp, and I thought if I started talking about it he wouldn't agree.”

Gordon Ross, for Blackman, questioned why the woman had not asked him to leave her tent and suggested that the incident had never happened.

But she sobbed as she told the jury he was a “very strong character” and that she was “scared of upsetting the general togetherness of the camp.”

She added: “I didn't know what to do or who to talk to. I didn't know if it was just me being naive and not being experienced in relationships.”

 

At the height of the Occupy movement, allegations of sexual assaults became an issue for Occupy, as members within the movement began to come forward with complaints about women's safety in the camps and how such allegations were handled within the movement.  Many camps encouraged working through such issues within the camp, rather than going directly to police.  Some protesters even notified certain media outlets like Current TV, but rather than report the incidents, such outlets tried to "debunk" them.  There are numerous reports at Breitbart News about the accounts of sexual assaults at Occupy camps and challenges in how the movement responded to them.

That said, the testimony of the victim in this case, and her fear in reporting the incidents, certainly seems feasible in the context of the movement's environment at the time.

However, I'm hesitant to make any definitive judgments until we've heard Blackman's side of the story.  If he's found guilty, this would certainly be an ironic turn of events, given Anonymous' self-proclaimed role as supporters of rape victims.

(To be fair, Anonymous is a leaderless movement and one person's alleged actions do not necessarily reflect that of the whole. Of course, that's the problem with leaderless movements - at some point, public opinion associates everything with the whole, regardless.  Ask the Tea Party about that.)


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