A row over a baseball cap triggered a bitter dispute at a hacker conference over the weekend, with 13 leading organisations writing to organisers to complain over their failure to “remove fascist and white nationalist disruptors” from the HOPE 2018 event.
Organisers and security at the biennial Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference, were blasted for refusing to expel attendees who had been reported for “intimidation and harassment”, including one reported to have been carrying a concealed weapon.
A letter signed by organisations including the Tor Project and riseup.net, along with prominent industry journalists Micah Lee and Barrett Brown, painted a picture of a deeply divided event – sponsored by the security hacker magazine 2600: The Hacker Quarterly – in which many felt threatened by some of the other attendees.
An irate hacker ultimately snatched an offending hat of one the attendees, only to have the police called and be expelled, while others complained that event organiser security were supportive of and could be seen out drinking with the offending characters.
One of the fascists at HOPE harassed me, made comments about my appearance, and threatened the electronic devices of me and my friends. That HOPE is allowing fascists and cops into the space shouldn't be particularly surprising since it also allows rapists to attend and speak https://t.co/dQ6mzm2WEv
— camille fassett (@camfassett) July 21, 2018
Police Called for Hat Grab
In a joint statement, they said: “On Saturday, 2600 and HOPE Conference organizers refused to remove fascist and white nationalist disruptors from HOPE 2018 — including a man who appeared to be carrying a concealed weapon and who bragged about marching in the #UniteTheRight white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.”
“The fascist attendees menaced other conference goers, cornering them, following them down the street, and threatening them; one even called the police on a conference attendee in retaliation for grabbing his hat. Following numerous complaints, HOPE finally expelled one white nationalist (with a full refund), but allowed all of the other fascists to remain at the conference and intimidate attendees.”
After @hopeconf refused to remove white supremacist disruptors on Saturday, we (7 organizations, dozens of individuals) have published a statement of no confidence in HOPE’s CoC mechanism, and in opposition to fascism, nationalism, and racism in our space https://t.co/2cnDmZ2yLx
— Micah (@micahflee) July 22, 2018
“We can’t ban MAGA hats,” HOPE posted on Twitter. “It’s absurd to think we can. But if people are dumb enough to wear them at our conference, it makes it really easy to keep an eye on what they do. But don’t let yourself be manipulated into giving them control. That’s a big part of their game.”
You would still have MAGA heads. Consider the hats a form of tracking device to monitor potential troublemakers. https://t.co/psX9u5WbCH
— A New HOPE (@hopeconf) July 21, 2018