After more than a month of operating only behind the scenes or in the real world, hacktivist group Anonymous has brought its big guns to bear in support of the OccupyWallStreet protests.
Members of the group launched a DDOS attack that brought down the main web site of the Oakland Police Department for much of last night, cracked at least part of the security on an Oakland city government server and posted information on the names and data structure of Oakland city servers and the names, addresses and other personal data on Oakland police.
Members of the group have also put out the call for more hacked data and offered a $1,000 reward for specific data on the officer who fired the riot-control weapon that critically injured Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen.
Olsen, a former Marine who participated in the protest Tuesday night, was apparently struck in the head by either a tear-gas canister or flash-bang grenade fired by Oakland riot police during a violent effort to drive OccupyOakland protesters off the streets.
The 24-year-old "standing perfectly still, provoking no one" according to a witness quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle when he was struck in the face by a projectile that fractured his skull.
He is scheduled for brain surgery today, though doctors have predicted a full recovery for the four-year Marine veteran who did two tours of duty in Iraq before joining Iraq Veterans Against the War after he was discharged in 2010.
Police overreaction sparks more protest
The violence broke out as police tried to clear the protesters' tent city in Oakland's Frank Ogawa plaza. More than 85 protesters were arrested of the thousand or so marching in protest. Most of the demonstration was peaceful, despite what the San Francisco Chronicle called "scuffles" between protesters and police that prompted a dramatic overreaction by Oakland Police who used tear gas, bean-bag guns, batons and stun grenades to stop the violence and disperse the group.
Last night the OccupyOakland General Assembly voted to demand a city wide general strike and mass protest next Wednesday, Nov. 2, to protest the violence and suppression of the protests.
Other hacker groups are also getting in on the fun, though not always aiming specifically at the Oakland police.
A hacker posting for TeaMp0isoN under the name _f0rsaken put up a list of police-department web sites that are vulnerable to MSAccess SQL injections along with encouragements to "use your tools, knowledge, whatever it may be" to increase the impact of online protest by cracking the sites and posting data from them.
_forsaken wrote that he/she gained access to the data, but didn't post it in order to let others see how vulnerable the sites are.
Reinvigorated protest means trouble for police
The combination of online and offline protests may turn out to be a far more potent combination than either alone, especially for a movement reinvigorated by police violence, persistently bad economic news and the effort to make a martyr of Scott Olsen – an iconic figure whose status as a recent veteran makes him difficult for Occupy opponents to undermine.
Nov. 2 in Oakland – and the next week or two everywhere else – are going to be interesting ones for protest observers, but probably not pleasant ones for anyone on the opposite side.
"You got the resources," _forsaken wrote. "Do what you need to do, pwn, pwn, pwn."
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