On Saturday, a police officer from Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed an unarmed black teenager called Michael Brown, sparking a wave of protests in the town. According to multiple eyewitnesses, the 18-year-old had his hands up in surrender. The St. Louis County Police Department disputes this, claiming that Brown assaulted an officer during a "physical confrontation".
But Brown's supporters and family have recently gained a very powerful friend: Anonymous. The hacktivist collective describes Brown's death as "cold-blooded murder", declaring that Missouri police has "crossed a line in the sand".
In this two-minute video announcing the launch of #OpFerguson, the group outlines its demands from St. Louis police and state officials, including a call for Missouri legislature to introduce "Mike Brown’s Law" to set "strict national standards for police conduct and misbehavior in the USA":
Several hundred protesters marched through the town on Saturday, holding their hands up and chanting "We are Michael Brown" and "Don’t shoot me". As protests continued on Sunday, others in Ferguson began looting shops, and a SWAT team was despatched to disperse the crowd with tear gas. The mayor of Ferguson has said that anyone who attempts to show up for a rally today will be arrested.
Anonymous told Ferguson officials that they would be monitoring police activity at all future protests. "If you abuse, harass – or harm in any way the protesters in Ferguson we will take every web based asset of your departments and governments off line," the group promised in an official press statement. "That is not a threat, it is a promise."
It also warned that it would retaliate against any abuse or harassment of Missouri protesters by doxing and releasing the personal information of the entire Ferguson Police Department.
The hackers already hacked into the City of Ferguson website and disabled all official emails, although the site appears to be back up. The official #OpFerguson Twitter account has promised that the cyber attacks will continue.
And in true Anonymous style, they've declared themselves ready for war: