While the artist lofts on Kent St. in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn were buzzing with police activity this morning, their neighbors at the similar loft spaces on McKibbin St. had an unrelated run-in with the law yesterday. As part of the FBI raids that resulted in 16 arrests nationwide yesterday, a search for members of the hacker collective Anonymous brought authorities to the East Williamsburg building looking for one such online mischief-maker, but came up empty handed, Brooklyn Paper reports. “They were looking for the old tenants,” Meaghan Ralph, 21, said. “They were trying to be nice when they realized I wasn’t a criminal mastermind.” Elsewhere, the cops were luckier, grabbing a bunch of young adults — “Kids,” says one of their attorneys — whom the government wants to “throw under the bus.”
As we reported, an indictment unsealed yesterday in Northern California targeted fourteen members of the loosely organized Anonymous system. Two additional arrests also linked to Anonymous and the splinter group LulzSec were made from separate criminal complaints in New Jersey and Florida.
Scott Matthew Arciszewski, 21, was arrested in Florida, while Lance Moore, 21, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was arrested on the New Jersey indictment. (Then there’s London.)
Thirty-five total search warrants were carried out in the cases yesterday in states like New Mexico, California, Florida and New York. Locally, there were two searches in Long Island, plus the failed Brooklyn raid at McKibbon, and the search and seizure of computers at the Baldwin, NY home of Giordani Jordan.
The California indictment included Dennis Collins, known as “Iowa;” Christopher Wayne Cooper, 23, known as “Anthrophobic;” Joshua John Covelli, 26, known as “Absolem” and “Toxic;” Keith Wilson Downey, 26; Mercedes Renee Haefer, 20, known as “No” and “MMMM;” Donald Husband, 29, known as “Ananon;” Vincent Charles Kershaw, 27, known as “Trivette,” “Triv” and “Reaper;” Ethan Miles, 33; James C. Murphy, 36; Drew Alan Phillips, 26, known as “Drew010;” Jeffrey Puglisi, 28, known as “Jeffer,” “Jefferp” and “Ji;” Daniel Sullivan, 22; Tracy Ann Valenzuela, 42; and Christopher Quang Vo, 22.
We hear that one name redacted on the indictment is that of a 16-year-old girl. “The face of global terrorism,” the attorney Stanley Cohen said sarcastically to us today.
Cohen, a practiced and controversial left-wing lawyer, is representing Mercedes Haefer, a 20-year-old student (pictured above) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she studies social sciences and works as a cashier at Sony, according to her Facebook.
As we noted yesterday, the FBI’s recent action is being seen as “a campaign, not a crackdown” within the hacker community; those targeted, “teenagers and young adults … are merely charlatans and foot soldiers of the cultural resistance (with a rare exception, or two).”
But Cohen sees them as more than pawns. “They are committed political people who see themselves as responsible for the world that awaits them,” he said. “They’re not passive observers.”
Cohen joked, “I realize that the U.S. government would prefer they went to drive-in movies and make out, but that’s not what these kids are. They’re smart, they are committed, they are active and self-taught.”
The government, he says, hopes to “make an example of these people, tie up their academics and teach them a lesson,” but it’s going to get them nowhere.
“[Anonymous] is the biggest organizing tool in the world right now,” Cohen said. “For every one person you jail, 500 say, ‘This is cool.'”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 20, 2011