Tensions have hit a fever pitch in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, after a militant police force fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters multiple nights this week. Citizens have been protesting the police shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was set to begin college Monday.
Now, hacker collective Anonymous has launched a questionable campaign to publicly reveal the identity of the cop behind the killing, and it's all playing out on Twitter. In a series of tweets from a now-suspended account, Anonymous threatened and then released the name of a man it claims is Brown's killer. The St. Louis County Police Department responded, denying that Anonymous's information was correct:
The evidence presented so far by Anonymous in tweets doesn't reveal much. It's unclear if the man in question is even a cop, or if the photos were doctored in any way. I reached out to Anonymous with a few questions about the accuracy of the information it published and if it could provide any further evidence to support its claims. This is what the group wrote back:
THE PD will deny for their safety.
Our audio tapes exposed their lies.
And so will this.
Of course, assuming the police force are in imminent danger flies in the face of the narrative emerging out of Ferguson, where law enforcement have so far been the overtly militant, violent aggressors seemingly without a strategy or end-game. The mostly black community of Ferguson has staged peaceful protests.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports Missouri Governor Jay Nixon will announce in a press conference this afternoon that he will relieve the St. Louis police force from Ferguson and ask the FBI to step in and help.
Update, 8/14/2014: Governor Nixon said the Missouri State Highway Patrol will be stepping in to work with local law enforcement.
Update, 8/15/2014: Looks like Anonymous doxxed the wrong guy after all. According to a report from USA Today:
Police, Ferguson's mayor and the stepmother of the man named all say the group is incorrect and that the person named is not a police officer.
Kathie Warnack, 48, started quietly crying when she learned that Anonymous had released the name of her stepson.
The St. Louis resident said her stepson is a 32-year-old police dispatcher in St. Ann, Mo., and before that a manager at a dollar store. He has never worked as a police officer — not in Ferguson or anywhere else, she said.
On Friday morning, Ferguson police released the name of the police officer who shot Michael Brown. His name is Darren Wilson, a six-year veteran of the force.
[Image: Flickr user Tilemahos Efthimiadis]