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Demonstrators raise their hands while protesting against the death of black teenager Michael Brown, outside St Louis County Circuit Clerk building in Clayton, Missouri August 12, 2014. Police said Brown, 18, was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police c
Protesters outside the St Louis County Circuit Clerk building in Clayton, Missouri , on Tuesday.
Anybody who thought that the Ferguson Police Department and the St. Louis County Police Department in Missouri could keep secret the name of the officer who shot Michael Brown Saturday were dreaming. The FPD announced Monday that it would not release the name—as it had earlier said it would do—on the grounds that threats against the officer made over social media might endanger his safety.

Jennifer Bendery reports that the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed requests for release of the officer's name with both agencies Tuesday under the state's open records Sunshine Law:

Diane Balogh, communications director for the ACLU of Missouri, said the group filed the requests specifically to find out the identity of the police officer. The Ferguson Police Department originally planned to release the officer's name on Tuesday, but then decided not to, citing threats against the officer. In the meantime, the Justice Department is overseeing an investigation into the shooting and Ferguson has become a scene of daily protests and vandalism, with police even using tear gas on people standing in their own backyards.

"If they don't follow through, we will file a lawsuit and hold a press conference," Balogh told The Huffington Post. "There have been other situations where we've actually had to sue the police department because they haven't fulfilled the Sunshine Law requirements."

She added, "The police like their secrets."

The law requires action by the end of the third day after a request is made.

But by the time that deadline comes due, the name may already be out thanks to the efforts of Anonymous.

There is more below the fold.


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At Mother Jones, Josh Harkinson reports that the hacktivist group has gotten hold of and posted nearly two hours of police dispatch recordings from just after the shooting of the unarmed black teenager that occurred on Saturday. Anonymous began its efforts three days ago under the moniker "Op Ferguson." It shut down the city's website for several hours Sunday and Tuesday, and clogged city and police electronic in-boxes with junk emails in hopes of drawing the attention of journalists. It also threatened to post private information about the police chief's daughter if she didn't make the officer's name public. That threat was later withdrawn.

Harkinson writes:

I traded emails last night with one of the half-dozen core Anonymous members working on Operation Ferguson, as the group's effort to pressure and shame the local police department is known. They were still working to verify the identity of the shooter. "I can only tell you that our source is very close personally to the officer who killed Mike Brown, and that this person is terrified to be our source," said the anon, whom I will call Fawkes. He added that the source "reached out to us, we did not seek out this person." [...]

The computer-generated voice, graphics, and hacking threats are trademark Anonymous, but one aspect is unusual: a demand for federal legislation "that will set strict national standards for police misconduct and misbehavior." Though Anonymous has a strong anarchist strain that disdains politics, Fawkes told me that the idea wasn't controversial within the group. "We have done a few of these 'justice ops' and it seems there needs to be a larger solution to the problem on a nationwide level," he told me. "There was no debate—everyone on the team embraced the idea."

One source, McGill University cultural anthropologist Gabriella Coleman, whose new book Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, will be released soon, said Tuesday night that she doubted Anonymous had the officer's name yet, but that she "would not be surprised if they do soon."

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Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 02:54 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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