'Anonymous' Threatens Action Against Sacramento Over Homeless Policies - NBC Bay Area
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'Anonymous' Threatens Action Against Sacramento Over Homeless Policies

A video purportedly posted by the activist hacking group calls for a moratorium on the California capital's urban camping ban.

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    FILE ART -Person wears a Guy Fawkes mask which today is a trademark and symbol for the online hacktivist group Anonymous. 2012. (Photo by: PYMCA/UIG via Getty Images)

    A creepy and cryptic video that purports to come from the activist hacking group Anonymous was posted this week, criticizing the city of Sacramento’s homeless policies and asking for a moratorium on an urban camping ban – or else.

    If the group’s demands aren’t met, a masked speaker in a black robe says, "The Resistance" will take some sort of action.

    "Should you decide our request is untenable or refuse to honor it, we will bring the formidable talent of Anonymous to your city," according to the text attached to the three-minute YouTube video posted on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, the video had been viewed nearly 3,000 times.

    It's illegal to camp outside in Sacramento, and the issue has been heating up since December. On Jan. 2, several homeless activists were arrested after police confiscated bedding and tents from the homeless. This week, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson created a homeless task force in response to complaints over the police handling of that homeless protest.

    In a statement, the mayor's spokesman, Ben Sosenko, didn't directly address how the city was handling the "action" implied in the group's video. But he did say that the city cares about its homeless population.

    “The mayor remains committed to helping our most vulnerable population, not because of external pressure, but because it’s the right thing to do," he said.

    Sosenko also acknowleged that while the city has "made progress" with addressing the homeless situation, "we could always do more." 

    Sacramento City Police spokeswoman Officer Traci Trapani told the Sacramento Bee  the department has been monitoring its websites since noticing the video. "We are aware of it," said Trapani. "Our intelligence department is keeping an eye on it."

    She said she couldn't confirm whether the video maker was indeed from the Anonymous group.

    But the speaker in the video wears an eerie Guy Fawkes mask, a common symbol of the Anonymous anarchist group, founded in 2003. Fawkes was part of a plot to blow up the House of Lords in London in 1605 to restore a Catholic head  of state.

    The loose-knit Anonymous group is now known throughout the globe for members' well-publicized publicity stunts and cyber attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites. As recent as November, Anonymous hackers declared war on ISIS. In April, the group demanded that New Jersey police release the names of the officers involved in the arrest of a man who died in custody.

    Speaking in a robotic voice, the person in the video targets his message directly to the city of Sacramento. His message begins: "It has come to our attention that you continue to deny the homeless of your city their basic human rights, as well as rights garenteed (sic) by Amendment 8 of the United States Constitution.

    "Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity, i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person, criminalizes her for being homeless."

    While the speaker does threaten some sort of action against the city, the video and the text of the post do leave room for a happy ending, as long as the city complies with the group’s demands: "We ask politely that an immediate moratorium on enforcement of the 'do not rest' statute be imposed. "We would prefer to work on solutions."

    Contact Lisa Fernandez at lisa.fernandez@nbcuni.com or 408-432-4758. Follow on Twitter at @ljfernandez