This article by SI Advisor Alex Freeman originally appeared on The Fifth Column News.

Chicago, IL (TFC) – On Saturday, April 4, activist groups across the country held events to raise awareness that the mainstream media is a sales and propaganda arm of corporations and government.  The major outlets, amounting to 90% of all media in the US, are owned by only six corporations.  This aggregation of media sources has led to unnecessary wars, lack of accountability, and the effective programming of a populace that will roll over for the implementation of rights-violating legislation.  Furthermore, this programming is successful in creating public opinion with “facts” offered by paid spokespersons citing reports commissioned by major corporations, a sales process known as public relations.

Historically, March Against Mainstream Media has staged events outside of network affiliate television stations or newspaper bureau headquarters.  Complete with masks, signs, and cardboard box “TVs” to demolish, these events are known to draw spectators, but are often ignored by media outlets and members of the public, who most need to hear the message of the protesters.

Image of the Flier Distributed by The Chicago Anonymous

Saturday, The Chicago Anonymous engaged in a novel approach to the event.  Anonymous, the online hacktivists and masked occupiers of our streets, have become a familiar presence in front of courthouses, statehouses, and other highly visible places of corruption.  Instead of repeating these conspicuous, but often ineffective tactics, The Chicago Anonymous printed hundreds of fliers and took them directly to the people.

The plan was for all participants in the event to take to Chicago’s train and bus system with the fliers, directly engaging with the public.  The participants were to meet at the central and high-traffic Union Station, where they would be able to connect with many more Chicagoans through one on one communication and canvassing techniques.  Instead of screaming and sign waving, The Chicago Anonymous opted this year for open conversation with members of the public.

An organizer for The Chicago Anonymous recalled, “Everything went pretty well.  We had many people recognize us and stop us for flyers.  People pulled over and cab drivers rolled down their windows asking for them.”  The open communication, however, drew ire from businesses and police in spite of the peaceful exercise of free speech.  The organizer continues:

We went into a whole foods maskless immediately approached by security.  We explained we weren’t there to protest but to buy beverages, and gave him a flyer.  We were then approached by store personnel a couple times still.  Security guard brought a manager over while we were choosing what to drink.  We had to explain again.  He looked like an ass.  And they vanished till we left.  A few people in the store did come up and request flyers.

At Union Station, the tensions increased.

 Cops followed us in groups.  It felt like something out of the movies… Then when we went by our train they approached us trying to ask our names.  Where we were going.  Where we lived.  We refused.  People all around stopped to watch. We asked why we were being singled out.  If we were under arrest? Why so many questions? One told us get out of his station if we weren’t riding. Finally the other cop realized they were burying themselves and people were watching.  They too than vanished.

The canvassing technique showed considerable efficacy in spreading truth and awareness, educating the people of Chicago.  Law enforcement attempts at intimidation, while “nerve wrecking,” supports the idea that this method of protest may show promise of achieving education and awareness goals of Anonymous and other groups that have not been attained through marches and sign holding events.

When the public only has a small group of similarly aligned interests speaking, that speech is all they will hear.  On Saturday, The Chicago Anonymous gave them another voice to hear, and they showed interest in listening.   That, in itself, was dangerous to those that the law enforcement officers protect and serve. While this tactic could be used more frequently, here are suggestions for other ways to prevent mainstream media from being the only voice available for those with an ear to listen.

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