The mayor of Knoxville, affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan? An online list that went viral Sunday makes that claim, but the hacker group Anonymous—which plans to out 1,000 KKK members on Thursday—is distancing itself from the message. "It is irresponsible and slanderous," Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero tells WBIR. "Although, on a positive note, I do appreciate that they are using a picture of me from 12 years ago. Very flattering!" Rogero also notes that she's from a mixed-race family and started the "Save Our Sons" initiative to help young men and boys of color. Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson, also on the list, called it "absolutely false," while similarly accused Lexington Mayor Jim Gray issued his own denial, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.
Who wrote the list is unclear, but it found an audience on the Twitter account Operation KKK. The account—which appears affiliated with Anonymous—retweeted a link from IntelGroup, which uses the "#Anonymous" hashtag in its description. The tweet links to an IntelGroup page that has an ominous video targeting the KKK and links to three pages on the text-sharing site PasteBin (here, here, and here) where the names can be found. But Anonymous later tweeted these messages:
- Anyone can provide fake information when signing up to a website, reporters should be aware of this.—@YourAnonNews, November 2, 2015
- This account has NOT YET released any information. We believe in due diligence and will NOT recklessly involve innocent individuals —@YourAnonNews, November 2, 2015
Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, who's also on the list, likely wouldn't disagree: "It’s a complete hoax," he tells the Virginian-Pilot
. "It’s false. And I, you know, am offended by any suggestion that I ever had anything to do with the KKK."