Last week, after the Ku Klux Klan promised “lethal violence” against Ferguson protestors, hacktivist group Anonymous took over the KKK’s Twitter account and website, and posted:
To the KKK and police: Be peaceful or you will feel the consequences. To the protestors: do not be afraid. We are here for you and will protect and serve you.
Some Ferguson activists said that it took a hacker group in Guy Fawkes smirking masks to make them feel safe, given the local police’s recent history of aiming tear gas, rubber bullets and military weapons at them.
In words reminiscent of the ship hijacker in the movie Captain Phillips, Anonymous boldly proclaimed:
We are the law now.
Anonymous was responding to the virulently racist KKK threats against them and Ferguson protestors, like:
You’ll be strung up next to the chimps on display for the whole world to see. The Klan is to be feared, not threatened. Turn away, or face the consequences.
As law enforcement seemed to be doing nothing about the KKK’s threats, Anonymous took the matter into their own keyboard tapping fingers. All of this arose in the context of, and highlights, the ongoing lawlessness and lack of accountability in Ferguson.
1) After teenager Mike Brown was gunned down in the street on a sunny August Sunday, his blood literally ran in the street for four hours as his killer stood by. No arrest was made, though six witnesses have said publicly that Brown’s hands were up in the universal sign of surrender when he was fatally shot.
2) Officer Wilson, the shooter, was not even required to fill out an incident report explaining his killing of an unarmed civilian. Nevertheless, he has not been fired or even disciplined. He’s been on a paid leave since the killing.
3) Prosecutors did not file charges, an option available to them, though five of the six eyewitnesses who saw Wilson fire the fatal bullets into Brown’s head while his hands were up did not know either man in the incident. This is more than enough to establish probable cause, the lowest burden of proof in our legal system.
4) Prosecutors instead chose the secrecy of a grand jury proceeding, and then dragged it out, making getting to charges far more difficult by two highly unusual choices they made:
(i) putting on all the evidence as if this were a full blow trial; and
(ii) not recommending any particular charges be filed. As this same grand jury has been hearing other matters for months under standard operating procedure — where the prosecutor puts on a few witnesses and then advocates for specific charges — they will surely notice the difference.
In the unlikely event that the grand jury does indict, it would be in spite of, not because of, the prosecutor’s presentation of evidence in that room.
Which brings us back to the question of who, precisely, is the law in Ferguson? When an unarmed kid is shot, authorities repeatedly lie, duck for cover, and duck even the most minimal level of accountability. When Missouri’s Governor can’t even say who’s in charge, a vacuum exists and alternative groups like Anonymous step in to fill the void. No one, for example, seems to have been investigating the KKK’s fundraising for Darren Wilson’s defense fund or its other alleged ties to Ferguson police.
Repeatedly threatened by the KKK online, Anonymous’ first tweet from the KKK’s Twitter feed was a simple poke at having been underestimated.
You should’ve expected us.
Later the group mocked the KKK by posting a picture of a unicorn. A day later, still in control of the KKK’s Twitter feed, the hackers posted this:
Naturally, some voiced outrage at Anonymous’ illegal tactics and demanded THEY be investigated.
Now, hacking is very, very naughty, and the KKK has the right to freedom of speech yada yada. I suppose the police should get right on this, just as soon as they complete working out the criminal justice system’s massive, top to bottom racial biases (which I outline in my book, Suspicion Nation). Right after law enforcement puts in place a plan to stop widespread racial profiling and police targeting of poor and minority Americans. After all police are sporting the inexpensive body camera that Rialto, California has shown to work so we can drastically reduce excessive force against our neighbors. As soon as we tighten our gun laws so people like George Zimmerman aren’t walking around with concealed loaded weapons on their way to shopping at Target, and so police have less reason to fear civilians reaching into a waistband. Right after we train police to use nonlethal force against citizens whenever possible. When we have completed prosecuting all the Wall Street tycoons whose massive crimes tanked our economy in 2008, rather than the current focus on young black and brown folks jaywalking (Mike Brown, dead in Missouri) or walking too slowly (Trayvon Martin, dead in Florida) or selling cigarettes (Eric Garner, dead in New York) or looking at a toy in Walmart (John Crawford, dead in Ohio).
Anonymous is not the problem. Anonymous is performing a public service by drawing attention to the problem.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Avvo.