By DAVID CORREIA
[Updated 3/30/14] In a recent communiqué, the hacktivist group Anonymous denounced the March 16 police shooting and killing of a homeless man James Boyd. “Greetings city of Albuquerque,” a short video begins, “we are Anonymous. Recently, a video has been released to the public, which shows Albuquerque Police Officers murdering a man in cold blood for ‘illegally camping’. This man, [who] was schizophrenic, obviously had no intention of hurting these police officers, on the contrary, this man looks as if he is simply attempting to protect himself from visually fierce militarized thugs.”
Anonymous is a loose affiliation of internet activists. The group is best known for well-publicized attacks on government and corporate websites via distributed denial-of-service attacks, in which they overwhelm and thus shut down internet sites. The recent communiqué regarding James Boyd included such a threat: “Anonymous grab your cannons and aim them at Albuquerque police websites.”
But in addition to the attacks on APD website, which are welcomed by many local activists, there is concern that the communiqué included also a call for direct action against APD.
“APD you now have the full attention of Anonymous,” continued the video. “To the citizens of Albuquerque, it’s time to organize. On March 30th we are asking the citizens of Albuquerque to occupy the APD HQ and occupy the sites of the Albuquerque Police Department. Let them know that your city is not a place for war games against the homeless and the less fortunate.”
We share their anger and welcome their help, but we are concerned that their call for direct action might get people hurt. No local organization participating in coordinated efforts against police violence has called for an occupation of APD HQ. While non-violent direct action is planned as part of the struggle against APD violence, We at La Jicarita caution anyone attending this occupation that APD’s long-standing pattern of violence against unarmed people constitutes a real and present threat.
While many of us agree with Anonymous that APD operates via militarized thuggery, we hope for a peaceful march that raises local consciousness about police violence in a manner that gets us closer to our goals of social justice.
The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, which has been organizing around police brutality in Albuquerque for years, posted the following statement online:
“Because people have been asking us a lot about the protest allegedly called by Anonymous, we’d like to clarify. We’re not involved at all with planning the event. There doesn’t appear to be a solid group carrying out on-the-ground organizing. This is concerning when the tactics suggested are dangerous for those who would engage in them. For whoever decides to attend tomorrow, be safe. ANSWER will keep all of you posted when we have another action planned. Feel free to get involved and help us in organizing the struggle against police brutality.”
UPDATE: APD is reporting digital attacks and intermittent interruptions of APD’s website. A first video of the march has been uploaded online: