The Hacker Collective Anonymous has certainly made its presence known to the town of Ferguson, Missouri. Since the announcement of ‘Operation Ferguson’ in response to the unprovoked gunning down of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, Anonymous has done more damage than any rioter. It has, in effect, shut down huge sections of the Ferguson city government. By shutting off the municipal computer networks, turning off their phones, and releasing the information on the police officers who now attack journalists as well as their own citizens who seek answers, Anonymous has delivered on the ominous promise given just a few days ago.
This denotes a change in tactics for the activist collective, one which should make people stand up and take notice. The conditions put forth were simple, and when they were ignored, Anonymous carried out its threat, shutting off the internet presence for the city’s municipal buildings, taking their websites offline, and even shutting down the city government’s phone system. When the personal information was released, Mayor James Knowles, III of Ferguson suddenly realized that he had made a grave mistake in ignoring Anonymous.
They’re posting it out there asking for violence against me, my family, our council members, their families. (St. Louis County Police)Chief Belmar, it was Instigram, Chief Belmar’s house and his wife’s name was put online and people asked them to go and do harm to them. That’s the kind of people you’re dealing with, and that’s serious.
This technique, known as doxing, has resulted in threats, and injury, in the past. It was such an event which resulted in the assassination of Dr. George Tiller by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder. It is nothing to take lightly, as it appears the city government of Ferguson had done until it was too late.
“I think it’s extremely dangerous,” Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson said. “It exposes people to individuals out there who are violent and are looking for some sort of vengeance. It’s not a lot of people obviously but we really need to be cautions.”
Police Chief Jackson sadly failed to recognize that it was also entirely avoidable had the city’s police department not engaged in hostile action against the protestors. And not only protectors, but the police now appear to be targeting journalists as well.
— Direct Activism (@DirectActivism) August 14, 2014
And now, Anonymous says that it has identified the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.
We are in the process now of making a final confirmation on the name of Mike Brown’s murderer. It will be released the moment we receive it.
— Operation Ferguson (@OpFerguson) August 12, 2014
The story in Ferguson is not unique. If anything it is tragically common. But, somehow, this is different. Somehow, a line has been drawn in the sand, where people are going ‘No More.’
Our police have been turned from Sheriff Andy Taylor to Judge Dredd – Judge, Jury, Executioner. In 2012, police shot and killed 607 people. We outfit our officers with military gear, handing them automatic weapons, and then expect some result other than death to occur.
This is the beginning of something. There are those who view this as an isolated incident, but if you step back, it is an inevitable occurrence. Like the doxing which resulted in the death of Dr. Tiller, on an individual scale, such an event is impossible to determine, but on a macro scale, it is inevitable to occur. A single child’s death, a community outraged, and a nation awoken.
For a moment, let us consider the consequence. By releasing the personal information, the 911 call, by shutting down the internet, Anonymous has brought the Ferguson leadership something that they had lacked – fear. They were insulated from consequence, so they acted without concern. Now they are facing a very real consequence to their actions, one they were warned of, and one which they foolishly ignored. That phrase Anonymous uses, it is not just words on paper, a hollow motto. That is their creed, their lifes breath.
We Are Anonymous.
We Are Legion.
We do not Forgive.
We do not Forget.
The next step is obvious for the city government in Ferguson – release the name of the officer who killed Michael Brown and make it clear that he will be held accountable for his actions. Have Mike Brown’s Law drafted and posted on the internet. And let the city mourn for its dead in peace.
The actions of the Ferguson police department can not be tolerated in civil society. The police are public servants, not lords or soldiers. The demilitarization of the United States must begin.
Let it begin today.