Long before becoming Bay Area Rapid Transit’s chief spokesperson, Linton Johnson worked as a television reporter in St. Louis. In the late 90’s he was regularly seen dancing shirtless, with much fanfare, at the Complex.
Now an amorphous hacker group calling itself Anonymous has released nude photos of the bare-chested Johnson pulling down his pants, giving a full-frontal view of his genitals. The group has made national news recently with its large protests that have shut down the transit system in Downtown San Francisco, disrupting the commute for hundreds of thousands. Protests began after BART Police shot a homeless man who lunged at them with a knife, and intensified after BART disabled cell phone service in the system to thwart another planned protest. The idea to shut off cell phone service reportedly came from Johnson.
On Wednesday SF Weekly reported that Anonymous fired off a list of demands the transit agency would have to meet before the group would put an end to the protests that have snarled evening commutes. And one of those demands was for BART to fire Johnson.
Bob Franklin, the president of the BART board of directors commented on the protesters call for Johnson’s dismissal. “Linton is doing a great job and it’s a tough job. So the organization is going to stand behind Linton.”
Many in San Francisco have been ambivalent about the protests, but with tactics ranging from releasing the home addresses of BART police officers to these nude photos it seems the public is turning against Anonymous. The turn is more noticeable in the LGBT community were local discussion threads are on fire. Many of the photos aren’t sexually explicit at all- they’re just Johnson having fun at a gay bar with other guys. They’ve also distributed the personal website for Johnson and his partner, http://jeffandlinton.com/, which again has nothing to do with anything. If the goal was not to attempt to embarrass and discredit Johnson for being gay, what was it?
Anonymous may have made a monumental strategic blunder. It looks like the vile attack against Linton Johnson backfired and their image has taken a hit. More blowback may come at their next protest in the form of a glitter bomb.
Check out KQED News Radio Interview with Chris Andoe: LGBT Organizer Calls Leaked Linton Johnson Photos Gay-Baiting, Says Organizing Counter-Protest.
BY: CHRIS ANDOE