It seems the vitriolic, hyper-controversial group known as Westboro Baptist Church may have finally gone too far.
As soon as the WBC announced plans to picket a vigil for the victims of Friday's Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, hacktivist group Anonymous announced its own plans to retaliate against the group, with spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper so far bearing the brunt of the group's efforts.
In a video posted to Vimeo under the handle KY Anonymous, the group vowed retribution:
We will not allow you to corrupt the minds of America with your seeds of hatred," says the voice-over in the video. "We will not allow you to inspire aggression to the social factions which you deem inferior. We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.
Phelps-Roper, a relative of the group's founder, Fred Phelps, first announced the group's plan on Saturday "to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment" via her Twitter account.
But by Monday, Phelps-Roper's handle @DearShirley had been taken over by hacker @cosmothegod, who has since changed her Twiter background and tweeted out a petition calling for the White House to recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.
— Cosmo (@DearShirley) December 17, 2012
Anonymous claimed to have also changed Phelps-Roper's desktop background to gay porn, and successfully filed for a death certificate for Phelps-Roper, blocking her social security number, reports blog Arts Technica.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) December 16, 2012
Via its its @YourAnonNews account, Anonomyous also claimed responsibility for the fact that Westboro Baptist Church's website was taken down, and a for a Pastebin a list of personal information apparently belonging to Westboro members that was posted online.
Twitter was unable to be reached for comment. But according to the Christian Science Monitor, when Twitter sees activity that indicates an account has been hacked, it automatically resets that account’s password to lock out intruders and sends the user a warning email about what’s going on.
So far, there has also been no news of Westboro carrying through on its threat. (Reddit users previously said they would create a silent blockade in Newtown to keep out any protesters.)
The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church gained notoriety for picketing funerals of U.S. soldiers and AIDS victims with an extremely anti-LGBT stance. The group also threatened to picket the funerals of victims of the Tucson, Ariz., shooting andmemorial services after the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre.
CORRECTION:An earlier version of this story stated that WBC picketed memorial services in Tucson and Aurora. While the group threatened to picket, there is no evidence they actually did.