For protest group “Anonymous,” Thursday night’s rally against the Church of Scientology might have been their greatest success so far, at least in terms of media attention.
The group protested just down the block from the opening night of All My Sons at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on West 45th Street. The play stars Katie Holmes, the wife of Tom Cruise, the world’s most famous Scientologist. (The group had also protested at this site during previews of the show.)
Only about 40 Anons were at Thursday’s event, but when they chanted “Scientology Kills!” and “Free Katie!” the media that had assembled to cover Holmes’ Broadway debut began wandering towards the protest pen, about 100 feet away, to cover them as well. Their protest-fortified reports have already started to appear online.
Reporters asked the group their opinions on Holmes’ involvement with Scientology. The Anons were happy to oblige.
Wikki, a female Anon who attending the rally in a photogenic pink wig, was hastily drafted for the role of spokesperson. Holmes isn’t a member of the Church, she said, but a victim: “When you can’t go to a party without an handler, you’ve really lost your identity in some sort of way.”
“We’re trying to highlight the fact that her image is being used to promote this money-making racket,” said Anon Bob Goatse. “It is the most damaging cult out there.”
Mike Vitale, the first New York Anon to have his real name discovered by Scientology officials, attended the rally dressed as Batman. He carried a sign reading “Free Rachel Dawes,” referring to Holmes’ role in Batman Begins.
Vitale said that Scientology officials ramped up their monitoring activities of Anonymous in the weeks prior to the opening, which he surmised was an effort to keep rabble-rousers away from the media presence it would attract. (“I saw them, actually, at my house today,” he told us.)
Most passers-by regarded the protesters with a mix of amusement and annoyance. But some got interested. Two female tourists took pictures and asked the protesters what it was all about. After a brief rundown of the Anonymous mantra, they appeared convinced.
“I don’t like Scientology,” said one of the tourists. “I hope she leaves them.”