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article imageMany mourn the loss of veteran and activist Jon Byrd Special

By Justin King     Nov 21, 2013 in Lifestyle
Las Vegas - Jon Byrd, a prominent activist and former Marine, took his own life this week. The announcement shook the Anonymous collective to its foundation. Byrd was a leading organizer in Las Vegas for the collective’s street activities.
Friends report that he was having a hard time adjusting after a deployment to Iraq. At the beginning of this month, Byrd was a driving force in the Las Vegas Million Mask March. Many in the area credit him with bringing local activists together that had previously only coordinated online. Rebecca Cherie talked about him openly:
He was so warm and welcoming. We had tried to make arrangements to meet up at protests but stuff came up and Jon couldn't make it. We finally were able to meet in person at the Million Mask March in Las Vegas. He came over and gave me a hug and thanked me for coming out. He was always smiling and it’s hard to imagine him not smiling. He quickly took charge and we held our first Anonymous meeting where we could talk all together and discuss upcoming events. We all talked for hours getting to know each other. We all have such great passions, and Jon's passion was one of the strongest in the group. He truly loved the idea of Anonymous and the formation of our "family". He told stories of bringing down Scientology and the early days of Anonymous and 4chan. We laughed and joked. Afterwards we went out to TGIFridays for Veterans Day. We all laughed and joked like we had known each other for years. We all knew the same jokes because we all did know each other, just not in the flesh and blood, but instead behind a computer screen.
Even those who barely knew him seemed profoundly impacted by his death. Jason Nellis, a participant in Las Vegas March spoke of Byrd in a Facebook post.
Jon Byrd
Jon Byrd
Rebecca Cherie
I only met you (that I knew of) once, and from that one day I gained a whole lot about who you are, clearly a good person, with things done wrong to you, and I thank you for being the reason I've met a whole new amazing group of people, while I sure wish I could have gotten to know you far better and that it would've just been the first of many times hanging out (I honestly felt it would be, felt I knew you, and I know that for sure, not just saying this after someone's death) instead of the only time.
His legacy of activism will continue after his death. Byrd originated an idea to protest large retailers on Black Friday as Cherie explained:
We planned to crash Black Friday at [large retailer]. He wanted to play hide and seek in [large retailer]. So we will. We are going to hijack the sound system and play the Harlem shake and record a video of everyone dancing in our Anonymous masks. Jon wanted to make a video of Anonymous Harlem Shaking, so we are going to do everything Jon wanted to do. He was a wonderful person with such passion for human rights.
Javier Sanchez went into detail about the man behind the mask and his qualities as a leader within the leaderless resistance.
Jon was a quiet leader. He had the ability to unite people; then revel in their ideas. Create an air of conversation where people can communicate and bring into the light our common grounds and thus uniting us. He was a man of stalwart convictions. He knew precisely where he stood and why it was important to him to stand on that ground. He was very proud of our little collective. People would sometimes complain about the small groups that would come to rally at our side, when we'd protest, but Jon saw every mask as a win. Because he knew what it was to stand alone, to protest alone and he was proud and grateful to see us stand united, however small our group was, against the issues that plagued us. Jon also was accessible to the younger people in the movement. Giving them perspective and encouraging them to carry on with what mattered to them and rally the causes that mattered to them. Jon was very passionate about music. He found great joy in creating and sharing music with others. Finally, Jon was one of us. He was part of our group which marched under the banner of Anonymous. He will be missed.
Jon Byrd mixing music.
Jon Byrd mixing music.
Rebecca Cherie
His death was felt all over the country. Alex Poucher, a fellow DJ, will be honoring Byrd by playing some of his music at The Oz nightclub in Sauget, Illinois on Saturday night.
Johnathan Walker Byrd (October 14, 1982 - November 18, 2013) will be remembered on November 24th at 2 p.m. at Greenlawn Funeral Home. He is survived by Katia Byrd; a son, Ashton Byrd, parents, Danny and Melody Byrd , a sister, Christy Culver and husband Jay, a brother, Jeremy Byrd and wife Katie, and grandmother, Evangeline Walker. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made to the Ashton Byrd Memorial Fund.
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