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2012 Summer Olympics: 5 activist groups you’re likely to hear from in London

Various protest groups plan to use the summer Olympics to make their voices heard.

East London.

Best known for: The Space Hijackers posted a logo on their Twitter account in May that resembled the “official” Olympic logo. Their intention was to parody what they see as the commodification of the Olympic games. The hijackers explain, “Given that there is an official chocolate bar, an official television, an official junk food supplier, a never ending list, we felt someone had to step up to the mark and declare themselves the Official Protesters.” The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the games’ official organizing body, contacted Twitter, apparently concerned that someone might think the Hijackers were an official sponsor. The Hijackers’ account was temporarily disabled as a result, earning the group both media attention, and, as they see it, further confirmation that they are indeed the official protesters.

How they are seen by others: Some call them inventive, some call them comical, and others think they are reckless, but the fact is that these anarchists and anti-capitalists love to stir up a little satiric trouble for their cause. 

3. Art Not Oil is on an aesthetic crusade against Big Oil, emphasizing “creativity, climate justice, and an end to oil industry sponsorship of the arts.”

("Olympic cameras" by Kevin Blowe, featured in "Cultural or Vultural 2012?," Photo courtesy of

What they want: The group seeks to highlight the link between oil and art, a connection that may not be immediately clear. According to its website, the organization “encourages artists — and would-be artists — to create work that explores the damage that companies like BP and Shell are doing to the planet, and to celebrate the role art can play in counteracting that damage, seeking solutions or simply lifting the spirits.”

How they go about getting it: Online galleries feature art that varies in medium and content, but share similar themes about nature and corporate greed. A recent gallery, “Cultural or Vultural 2012?” displays pieces inspired by controversy surrounding the cost, sponsors, and heightened security of the Olympics. Art Not Oil has collaborated with Liberate Tate, London Rising Tide, Reclaim Shakespeare and other organizations in the past, and its website urges people to make art, cut their carbon, and speak out against environmentally unfriendly funding.

Specific targets: The group has critcized BP’s “PR offensive” in the wake of the oil spill. “Sponsorship of galleries, museums and other cultural spaces is one of the most important ways BP tries to protect its reputation and buy our acceptance. By breaking off BP’s relationship with our most prestigious cultural institutions, we strike a blow to BP’s precious brand…” Another “cultural space” that BP is sponsoring happens to be the London Olympics.

4. Greenwash Gold is a campaign composed of three separate organizations — London Mining Network, Bhopal Medical Appeal, and UK Tar Sands Network — each with its own human rights and environmental concerns. The coalition focuses on three of the more controversial Olympic sponsors.

(Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

Who they hate: BP, Dow Chemical and Rio Tinto. BP’s part in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its efforts to extract oil from the tar sands have Greenwash Gold upset about its title as “Sustainability Partner” for the Olympic games. Dow Chemical’s ties to the Bhopal disaster make it a controversial sponsor as well. Lastly, Rio Tinto’s agreement to supply the metal for the Olympic medals, despite its history of human rights abuses and pollution, have Greenwash Gold up in arms. Greenwash Gold feels that the truth about these companies is being “greenwashed,” or covered up, so that the London 2012 Olympics can be marketed as the “greenest ever.” 

How they get what they want: Exposure and awareness. Greenwash Gold runs a website that encourages audience participation. Website visitors can vote for the recipient of the Greenwash Gold medal after viewing the three short animated films on BP, Rio Tinto, and Dow Chemical The recipient of the Greenwash Gold medal will be the company that “is covering up the most environmental destruction and devastating the most communities while pretending to be a good corporate citizen by sponsoring the Olympic games.” 

More from GlobalPost on the beef with BP and Dow Chemical 

5. Anonymous is a “hacktivist” collective, probably more of a distantly connected network than a tight-knit organization.

(Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images) 

What they want: Members of Anonymous are mainly advocates for freedom of speech, particularly on the internet. But in recent months they have turned their attention to the Olympics. In a YouTube video released in February, a masked member of Anonymous expresses concerns about enhanced police powers during the 2012 games and increased military presence in “our streets.” 

Their slogan: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” Sounds like something from a futuristic dystopic novel. Fitting, since Anonymous seems to draw on the 2005 movie, “V for Vendetta,” a film based on a comic series about a masked rebel fighting  a totalitarian government in the United Kingdom.

Best known for: Those Guy Fawkes masks that keep appearing at Occupy events. And of course hacking everything from Paypal, which they targeted for not processing payments meant for Wikileaks, to the Syrian Ministry of Defense website. 

How they hack: In a DDOS, or distributed denial of service attacks, skilled hackers target a website they wish to shut down, and overload it until no one can access it.

More from GlobalPost:  

Battle of the hacktivists: Anonymous vs. Telecomix 

With Nazi leaks site, Anonymous targets the German far right

In response to SOPA, Anonymous hackers target the US government