The hacker group Anonymous saw their Twitter account suspended this week after the international network of hacktivists, known for their publicity stunts and cyber attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites, implicated the wrong cop in the St. Louis shooting of 18-year-old black teen Michael Brown.
Writes the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Twitter suspended an account associated with the hacker group Anonymous Thursday after the account published the name of the person it said was the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. Police and the Ferguson mayor both said the name Anonymous released was wrong.”
The hackers have disrupted multiple St. Louis county and government websites. As of the writing of this article, stlouisco.com, the official website for St. Louis county departments and agencies, was “timing out.”
Writes stltoday.com: “The person tweeting under the handle @TheAnonMessage confirmed via email that the account was suspended, ‘for practicing free speech,’ the person wrote. He also said he would immediately begin using a secondary Twitter account, @TheAnonMessage2.”
Anonymous previously said that a “Bryan P. Willman” was responsible for shooting Brown, and carried pictures of Willman, a middle-aged white man. In reply, St Louis police tweeted:
@TheAnonMessage Bryan Willman is not even an officer with Ferguson or St. Louis PD. Do not release more information on this random citizen.
According to sources, Willman is a 911 dispatcher and was uninvolved in the Ferguson shooting.
Today, the AnonMessage2 website tweeted comments on the developments:
BREAKING: #Ferguson police plan to release the name of the officer who murdered #MikeBrown today to stop accusations.
I can guarantee you, if it was not for our actions, #Ferguson PD wouldn't be revealing the "real" name today.
No matter what we do, it won't be as bad as killing a kid and leaving him to die on the street, covered with his own blood. #Ferguson
According to Twitter, the Anonymous handle was disabled because of privacy rules. Twitter says users “may not publish or post other people's private and confidential information, such as credit card numbers, street address or Social Security/National Identity numbers, without their express authorization and permission.”
Anonymous shot back with:
REMINDER: We did not release the address or any other information belonging to Willman, except his name and photos of him. #Ferguson
Ferguson police have reversed their earlier decision to keep the cop nameless (and raceless), and said they will make the details of the killer known today. Writes USA Today on Aug.15: “The Ferguson, Mo., police department on Friday will identify the officer who shot Michael Brown, whose death spurred violent protests and unrest in the St. Louis suburb over the past week. Ferguson, Mo., Police Chief Thomas Jackson said he would like to release the name by 9 a.m. ET Friday.”
Details as to Brown’s death are yet unclear. Brown was with another man, identified as 22-year-old Dorian Johnson, who spoke about watching Brown getting shot. A scuffle occurred inside of the police patrol car last weekend; an officer was reportedly shoved into the car and a struggle for the officer’s sidearm ensued. One round was fired in the car. The altercation then spilled out into the street, and Brown was thereafter shot.
The incident has touched off a week of violent protests and riots.
Multiple YouTube videos captured mostly black males, many of whom had handkerchiefs or other articles of clothing covering their faces, smashing and grabbing items from destroyed storefronts. Police were forced to use tear gas rounds in order to quell the crowd.