Early Monday morning, Cleveland police received a call from a city manager: the Cleveland city website was "under attack" and eventually taken offline. A few hours later, the "hacktivist" group Anonymous took responsibility for shutting down Cleveland's official website, which at this time is still down. The group's Monday morning cyberattack is a sort of digital protest over the latest police killing of a young African-American citizen.
Anonymous tweeted on Monday that Cleveland is the group's newest target, following the tragic death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. The 12-year-old boy was shot at least twice by two Cleveland police officers — including one rookie cop — on Saturday, because he was carrying an "airsoft" toy gun at a public recreation center. According to the Cleveland Police Department, the officers believed the toy gun was real because it didn't have the typical orange marker, which denotes that it's fake. Rice died from his injuries Sunday morning, and the two officers have been placed on administrative leave.
Anonymous released a video statement on Monday, criticizing the Cleveland Police Department for withholding the name of the "overzealous rookie cop" who fatally shot Rice. The group continued:
This Rookie officer apparently was not trained. The police department he works for is to blame for this lack of appropriate training Officers are equipped with many non-lethal options such as Taser guns. Why did he not use a Taser on this child? Shooting him in cold blood was not necessary with these non-lethal options available. Are the police so moronic that they have to use the so called lethal force? The excuse “ We were feared for our lives” is Ludacris when the victim was only 12 years old and only had possession of a toy airsoft gun... Police of the United States you will learn in due time once anonymous has shut down your sites that we will not stand for your ignorant untrained rookie cops.
Cleveland city officials have yet to comment on the cyberattack or Anonymous' statement, though the city's official Twitter account did acknowledge that its website was down and phone lines exist.
According to Fox 8 News, Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association President Jeff Follmer said the officers felt they were in danger when Rice allegedly refused to put his hands up. Follmer told the news source:
As they approached the male, they are screaming at him put your hands up, put your hands up; they don’t want his hands to go anywhere down by the waistband.
The officers claimed they didn't know Rice's gun was fake until after they shot him. Rice's death is now under investigation.
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