The mysterious hacking group Anonymous has reportedly attacked the Atlanta Police Department's website as retribution for the killing of Rayshard Brooks on Friday. According to a report by Forbes, multiple local outlets in Georgia found that the APD's website was offline on Sunday. Some social media accounts claiming to belong to Anonymous hacktivists claimed credit for the digital attack, but due to Anonymous' decentralized structure, it is impossible to know for sure if members were responsible.
Anonymous Twitter accounts posted about Brooks' death on Sunday before warning: "[The Atlanta Police Department] has been taken Offline," followed by the acronym "A.C.A.B." — "all cops are b—s." Within hours, other accounts claiming to belong to Anonymous shared the news as well, showing solidarity with each other and demanding more consequences for the officers involved. "We call for the arrest of the two murders," read one post. "No more impunity."
Anonymous has taken action against Atlanta PD for the execution of #RayshardBrooks, we call for the arrest of the two murderers. No more impunity. #BlackLivesMatter #AtlantaShooting #AtlantaProtests https://t.co/jpFhU7T8Ij— Anonymous (@YourAnonCentral) June 14, 2020
Atlanta police found Brooks asleep in his car in a Wendy's parking lot late on Friday night. Body camera footage reportedly shows them dealing peacefully with him for about 40 minutes before things went south. When police tried to handcuff Brooks, he snatched a Taser from one of their hands and ran away. One of the police officers fired his gun at Brooks as he fled.
The case has caused some controversy within the growing movement to "defund the police." Some pundits have argued that since Brooks grabbed the Taser, the use of force was justified. Still, many others say that there was no cause for deadly force against Brooks, who was not a violent offender and had cooperated up to that point. "I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force," said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Saturday.
Trump supporters and racists are targeting our account @AnonOpUSA after we took down the Atlanta Police Department.
Also, Atlanta PD website its only online for USA. Outside of America connections cant connect. pic.twitter.com/k7ILzdR1HO— Anonymous USA (@AnonOpUSA) June 14, 2020
Brooks' case also indicates a change in the handling of police violence, since the officer who killed him, Garrett Rolfe, was fired immediately. The other officer on the scene, Devin Brosnan, was placed on administrative duty, while the police chief Erika Shields resigned from her post. Still, everyone from Brooks' family to the hacktivist group Anonymous want to see criminal charges brought against Rolfe.
Whether or not the Anonymous affiliates claiming credit for the attack on APD's website and calling for criminal charges against Rolfe are the same as those who carried out any of the group's other alleged actions is impossible to say. Anonymous is an international collective of hackers with no leadership and no centralized outlet for press releases. However, an email sent to Forbes reportedly disavowed all social media activity attributed to Anonymous.
"Anonymous does not use Twitter or Facebook. It uses IRC," it read. "We do not appreciate false flag impersonations. There will be consequences."