Anonymous forces Westboro Baptist Church out of Aaron Swartz funeral protest

Over the past week we've seen several reactions to the death of freedom of information activist Aaron Swartz, one of the most disturbing being the planned protest of his funeral by the Westboro Baptist Church. It would appear that today the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous has saved the day, having promised action against the WBC if they did, in fact, show up at the funeral in Highland Park, Illinois. The WBC's lawyer has reportedly since contacted local police, stating that the group would not be attending the vigil – and by the looks of it here the day after the event, they did indeed stay away completely, not a one of them showing up.

The Anonymous message sent out this week made it clear that they were sorry that the WBC was targeting Swartz and his family, and that they felt responsible for the fact that it was happening. They go on to state several ways in which they'll make sure the WBC would not make an impact on the funeral for Swartz, saying how it's important that the Department of Justice is the focus here surrounding Swartz's death, not the WBC cult.

"Before discussing the operation, there is something that needs to be said to Aaron's family and his friends: We're sorry. It is likely that our continuous condemnation and attacks against this cult is the very reason Aaron is being targeted by them. We would do anything to stop them from attending Aaron's services. Aaron deserves peace and we will not allow this cult to overpower what should be the media's focus, the monsters at DOJ who ruthlessly targeted your son.

We encourage organizations who would like to form protective human shields near Aaron's funeral to listen closely for any announcement by the family on this action and respect their wishes." – Anonymous

Twitter is currently flowing with the hashtag #OpAngel, also the title of the "operation" as run by Anonymous. Anonymous is also holding a peaceful protest proposed for the 25th of January, 2013, that will include discussion surrounding the DOJ and freedom of information across the web.

Have a peek at the brief timeline below to learn more about Aaron Swartz and the events that lead up to his death – and the impact his life is having here in his wake. Operation Angel, as they're calling it, will continue through the future with Anonymous, but you can get involved in any number of open source friendly events in the future as well.