On Anonymous and police brutality

Posted by David Gomez

An alleged case of police brutality in Fullerton, California has inspired the hacker group Anonymous to issue threats to the city’s public officials. But is the hacktivism the only way to get justice?

Anonymous has added police brutality to the long list of things they dislike. It’s quite a common occurrence these days. Something controversial or unjust happens and Anonymous adds an accused party to its public list of potential hacking targets.

Have you been following the Kelly Thomas situation in Fullerton? No wonder it caught Anonymous’ attention. I first  heard about it on Photography is Not a Crime. It’s the place to go if you like reading about police officers harassing photographers for exercising their First Amendment rights or police brutality.

Kelly Thomas was a 37-year-old homeless man with schizophrenia. For some reason the police in Fullerton beat and tased him repeatedly. He then fell into a coma and died five days later.

The real reasons for the police encounter and the deadly beating are not yet known, but parts of incident are caught on video and it’s not very pretty. You can hear Thomas crying out for his father, a retired Orange County sheriff’s deputy, in one video as police mercilessly beat him in the background.

In another video there is a conversation between a bus driver and witnesses of the beating. In the video the witnesses tell the driver that Thomas ran off after being approached by the police, who then chased him down and began the fatal beating.  

There is most likely even more video footage that provides an even better understanding of what went down, but police seized cameras at the scene and the city is holding back footage because they don’t want to taint witness testimony.

In case you couldn’t already guess, the authorities are likely hiding something because their officers knew to begin taking video evidence from bystanders, and because they won’t release the other footage. This obviously has the city of Fullerton, and the nation outraged.

It also caught the attention of Anonymous, which isn’t much of a surprise based on what we currently know about them. Say what you will about the hacktivist collective, but they hate the kinds of things that people should hate. Like bullies and police brutality.

And since Anonymous fancies themselves as the voice of the people, or the voice of the voiceless, they decided to make it known that what the Fullerton PD did was wrong.

That’s why they announced Operation Fullerton via Paste Bin last Friday. The Operation Fullerton public statement from Anonymous contained threats of hacktivism against the Fullerton PD and the city if a list of demands is not met.

One of the demands is a $5 million payment to the legal survivors of Kelly Thomas.

Maybe it’s not okay for the shadowy hacker group to issue threats to public officials, but its also not okay for tax fed public employees to beat someone so badly that it causes them to go into a coma and die five days later.

Supposedly the original reason the police wanted to talk to Thomas in the first place was related to stealing. But even that is being called into question by conflicting reports. Nobody truly knows what's going on here, but something seems like it is being covered up.

Whatever the real reason turns out to be, it’s definitely not okay for six public officials to beat someone to death over stealing from a convenience store - not ever.

You may not be a big fan of Anonymous (I’m not) but you have to admit they make some good points sometimes. Their methods might be a little extreme, but in case you haven't noticed, our system is broken and doesn't work. So tell me, how else are we supposed to make changes? The next election? Give me a break.

These are some dystopian times we are living in. And the existence of Anonymous is proof of that.