Hacker activists with the protest group “Anonymous” have in recent weeks taken down over a half-dozen major Orlando, Florida-based websites and spammed tens of thousands of unsolicited faxes all over the city as a response to an ordinance that prohibits feeding homeless people in public parks.
In a release Friday on the progress of what they called “Operation Orlando,” the group insisted that its efforts were in no way connected to the activists with Food Not Bombs (FNB), who’ve been arrested for feeding the homeless in a city park.
Keith McHenry, who helped found the group 30 years ago, was arrested last week and is still imprisoned. McHenry’s view is that food is a right, not a privilege, so he and the group refused to abide by the law.
In response to the arrests, Anonymous toppled the websites of the Orlando Chamber of Commerce, the Orlando International Airport, Orlando’s fraternal Order of Police, the mayor’s reelection site and two popular tourist and events websites featuring the city’s attractions.
They have also sent an image (pictured) of Walt Disney mascot Mickey Mouse, face covered by a Guy Fawkes mask, to tens of thousands of fax machines and Orlando-based email addresses, in an effort to drum up support for feeding the homeless.
“[The] Mayor has called us criminals and terrorists,” the hackers wrote, in an advisory. “We’ll own the criminal label. All revolutionaries are by definition criminals.”
They added that they hoped to “follow in the footsteps” of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by creating “a way to wage war peacefully,” which they believe to have accomplished. They also demanded that McHenry be released and the city’s ordinance be repealed, or they would continue their hacking campaign.
Anonymous’s release also noted that FNB plans to be out in Orlando at 9 a.m. on Monday, July 4, to continue their work by feeding homeless people in the park — publicly flouting the city’s law, which could cause officers to swoop in and make arrests.
“Come to protest, or to serve food with FNB,” Anonymous urged. “Or bring your own tables and food and serve beside them. [We] call upon all our brother and sister Anons in Florida to don your masks and do the same.”
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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