You wouldn't normally associate hacktivist collective Anonymous with Albuquerque, New Mexico, but the collective are waging war on the city's police department over allegations of police brutality. As part of #OpAlbuquerque, hundreds of demonstrators rammed the streets of downtown Albuquerque, squaring off to tear gas and officers in riot gear, while Albuquerque Police Department claim that they have been the subject of a DDOS attack.
Tensions have been simmering for the past fortnight after a homeless man, James Boyd, was shot dead by police on March 16. He was apprehended by officers after having been spotted illegally camping in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, on the east side of Albuquerque. A video has been released on the internet.
An Anonymous affiliated group called The Horsemen have uploaded an open letter to the APD onto PasteBin. It reveals that they have infiltrated the City Of Albuquerque's emails and are preparing a dox on the three officers involved in the shooting (a dox is a revelation of personal information).
The FBI is currently investigating the video, which has been released to the public. Warning - the video is pretty graphic:
The killing of James Boyd is just the latest episode in an unfavourable string of violent events for the Albuquerque Police Department. Since 2010, the force have been involved in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal – a number that critics say is far too high for a city with a population of just over half a million.
The hacktivists also threatened to attack the website of the police department, which briefly went down earlier this weekend. While a police spokesperson confirmed that the site had malfunctioned, he did not confirm the culprit behind the disruption.
Anonymous laughed off the suggestions that the website malfunction was anything to do with them. CypherLulz, a member of the group, tweeted about the police department's suspicions, implying that Anonymous have far bigger things planned than just a DDOS attack, which is a cyberattack that involves thousands of users trying to access a website at once, consequently overloading its servers and shutting it down.
The only thing Albuquerque city officials have been talking about is planned ddos attacks. Pathetic.— Cypherlulz (@Cypherlulz) March 27, 2014
Just under a week ago Anonymous uploaded a video to YouTube, in which a computer generated voice decries the "cold blooded murder carried out by visually fierce, militarised thugs" of Albuquerque Police Department.
It goes on to say "We drastically need to address the growing police state that has occupied our country. APD you now have the full attention of Anonymous. On March 30th we are asking the citizens of Albuquerque to occupy the sites of the APD. Let them know that your city is not a place for war games against the homeless and the less fortunate. APD, you should have expected us."
Albuquerque mayor Richard Berry said “We respected their rights to protest, obviously, but what it appears we have at this time is individuals who weren't connected necessarily with the original protest. They've taken it far beyond a normal protest.”
Despite the deployment of tear gas, Anonymous claim that the march was not violent, and have said that the media have falsely reported on the protest.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot