The Walmart shooting that took the life of 22-year-old John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Ohio, August 5 has been the subject of protests ever since -- and in particular after a grand jury on September 24 refused to indict the police officer who killed Crawford. At he time, the young dad was strolling around Walmart, talking on his cell phone and holding a BB gun that he had only moments before picked up from a store shelf.
As of Friday, protesters have been joined by a new group, the aptly-named internet vigilante hacker group Anonymous, who launched what the group is calling #OpJohnCrawford in an attempt to force authorities to take action in the Walmart shooting death -- or risk crippling cyber attacks.
"Anonymous, in an interview with one member identified only as 'Ghost,' pledged that its hackers 'will not stop and will go to any length for justice for John Crawford,' according to the news site AntiMedia.com."
The self-described "hacker collective" has become involved in numerous social and political causes in recent years, perhaps most famously the 2012 Steubenville, Ohio, rape case, in which a hacker, later alleged by the FBI to be 26-year-old cyber-security specialist Deric Lostutter, released evidence that revealed the identities of several high school football players accused of raping an underage girl and bragging about their crime online.
"In the Walmart shooting case, Anonymous is threatening to stage online attacks against unspecified Beavercreek authorities, and to 'take out any web based assets, and make personal informational viral until demands are met.'"
Anonymous announced its three "demands," which are to fire Officer Sean Williams, the Beavercreek cop who fired the shots that killed John Crawford III, and to bring charges against 911 caller Ronald Ritchie.
In his emergency call, 24-year-old Ritchie, who was also a customer in Walmart the day of the shooting, described Crawford carrying a semi-automatic rifle and "pointing it" at other customers, including children.
Ritchie later changed his story, saying that Crawford never pointed the gun — which was not a semi-automatic weapon but a toy pellet gun — and surveillance video also showed that Crawford kept the BB gun mostly at his side, never wielding it in any threatening manner.
Finally, Anonymous demands a public apology to the family of John Crawford III, who was the father or two young children, for his killing.
In more traditional forms of protest over the Walmart shooting, a group that picketed the Beavercreek police station for three days last week announced on Friday that it would move its demonstrations to the Ohio state capitol.