Who says political protests have to be confrontational? Supporters of the global hacker group known as Anonymous recently protested a new law in Japan by cleaning up a public park in Tokyo, AFP reported Sunday. The group of 80 protesters donning the Anonymous group's trademark Guy Fawkes masks gathered under light rain to clean the park and sidewalks of the shopping and entertainment district of Shibuya.
The offending new law is a tougher ban on illegal downloads of music and movies passed last month by the Japanese parliament. The new copyright law could mean jail time for illegal downloads. Anonymous, an avid champion of Internet Freedom, reacted swiftly with online attacks on Japanese government websites, which were defaced or brought down entirely late last month, but apparently some of its members are now trying a different approach that they see as more effective.
In a statement, the Anonymous cleaning crew said:
"We prefer constructive and productive solutions. We want to make our fellow citizens aware of the problem with a productive message."
According to a spokesman for the group, the idea for a mass cleanup instead of a more conventional protest was proposed in an online message forum:
"In IRC (Internet relay chat), somebody proposed cleaning as a means of protest as we didn't want to follow the style of mass anti-nuclear rallies which are getting too much."
Across the Pacific, American activist groups like Occupy and the Tea Parties should take note of the seemingly novel tactic. Instead of drawing attention to an issue by shouting, what if a political activist group did nice things? News of a public clean up effort or other charitable activities could bring more positive publicity for a group's cause while strengthening and improving communities across the country. Independent voters tired of the same old political tactics and quarrels should especially take notice and begin thinking of creative ways to draw attention to important public policy issues by crashing through the partisan noise with constructive protests like this!