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Friends call him brilliant. He was politicized early on. He criticizes "blind patriotism." He opposed Bush's war on terrorism. In high school, he founded an underground newspaper. It encouraged students to challenge conventional political discourse.
Most of all it urged "think." "Wake up." Your mind is programmable. If you're not doing it, someone will do it for you.
On the first day of the 2003 Iraq war, Hammond led a 100 students to a downtown Chicago anti-war rally. Months later, he enrolled at the University of Illinois/Chicago (UIC). He became an prominent campus activist.
He lasted a year. Hacking got him suspended. School officials said he wasn't welcomed back. A friend said "if you work within the system, they f..k you over." Hammond dedicated himself to working outside it.
He joined the radical Chicago community. He was a fixture at major and minor demonstrations. He made sure his presence was known. He was much more than a street-level agitator.
He was equally active online. It became his primary weapon. He challenged government and major corporations. He wants change. He chose electronic civil disobedience to achieve it.
"If corporations and governments are out of line today," he said, "it's up to cowboys of the electronic age to turn over the system and put the people on the top."
At the 2004 DefCon hacker convention, he championed disruptive electronic civil disobedience, saying: