Hackers target City of Orlando over Food Not Bombs arrests

06/10/11 Kate Bradshaw
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A group that takes responsibility for engaging in cyber attacks in Ivory Coast, Egypt, Iran, and other countries with governments known for human rights abuses launched an attack on the City of Orlando Web site this morning. The group targeted the central Florida city because it arrested people for sharing food earlier this week, though it’s not clear how severe the attacks were.

A hacker known as Commander X wrote that arresting people for sharing food with large groups in a public square is one of the most despicable things he’s ever heard of – at least in the US. X wrote that the nonviolent resistance was meant to create a smoking crater in the cyberspace locale where the city of Orlando hangs its hat. The attack took place between 10am and noon today, but Heather Fagan, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said the city didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary.

Orlando became the focus of international attention after city police arrested twelve people for sharing food at a downtown park. Orlando Food Not Bombs spokesperson Been Markeson stressed that the group didn’t know the front was planning to do it, and said the two groups are not affiliated.

The People’s Liberation Front has reportedly worked with Anonymous, the international group that electronically goes after governments and major corporations. Anonymous took responsibility for hacking credit card Web sites after the companies cut off the ability to donate to Wikileaks. Three men from the group were arrested in Spain Thursday for a slew of cyber crimes. Commander X wrote that his group is working mostly in Libya, Bahrain, and Syria right now, but Orlando caught their eye. Markeson said the act demonstrates what an outrage it is to ban public feedings.

This was supposed to take the city’s Web site completely down and bombard the city with tens of thousands of spam emails between 10am and noon. WMNF was able to access Orlando’s site during that time, though it was intermittently unavailable. The front threatened a full-scale cyber attack if the city arrests one more person for sharing food, and that it may involve the handiwork of Anonymous. Fagan said the city wants to work with Food Not Bombs to resolve the issue, but it probably won’t happen overnight.

Food Not Bombs’ Markeson said he doesn’t know of any talks at this point.

He said the group has a few demands for the city.

Markeson said he was not sure what concessions Food Not Bombs would be likely to give in return. He said the group shares food twice a week for two hours at a time.

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