Anonymous take down Ft. Lauderdale’s site for anti-homeless laws
The hacktivist group Anonymous is no fan of Fort Lauderdale’s new laws targeting the Florida city’s homeless population, and they took down multiple city websites to prove it.
Using a denial-of-service attack, Anonymous was able to crash two websites and the city’s email service on Monday, the Sun-Sentinel reported. The main city website, fortlauderdale.gov, was taken down for hours, as was the police department website.
Mayor Jack Seiler told the newspaper that all systems were back online around 6:30 p.m. local time, though sporadic problems were reported. Residents looking to pay utility bills were also denied during the outage.
The city became a target following news that it passed laws restricting actions such as sleeping on public property and panhandling, and placed limits on the ability of organizations to feed the homeless. In a YouTube video, a masked individual calls Seiler a “disgrace” and demands the city repeal the recently passed ordinances.
"You have 24 hours or less depending on whether this reaches you, Mayor [Jack] Seiler," the person in the video says.
Despite the attack, Seiler told the Sun-Sentinel the city would not reconsider the laws it passed and also questioned whether Anonymous would gain support from the homeless themselves. The mayor said homeless individuals would be "trying to distance themselves from [the video] now because it's certainly not anything about trying to do good works in the community and good deeds."
This whole series of events dates back in early November, when Florida police handed out citations and threatened to arrest three people for feeding the homeless: two priests and one 90-year-old veteran volunteer.
The controversial ordinance, which restricts food sharing, is intended to shrink the city’s growing homeless population. Food sharing can’t be situated near another feeding site; it has to be at least 500 feet from residential property; and feed program organizers must seek permission from property owners for sites in front of their buildings.
Fort Lauderdale isn’t the only city passing laws against the homeless and food sharing groups, however. Earlier this year, officials in Columbia, South Carolina, began requiring any group of 25 people or more to pay for and obtain a permit 15 days in advance if they wished to use the city’s parks for an event.
Meanwhile, Hawaii has made headlines for offering one-way tickets out of the state to homeless residents. The plan was initiated after repeated complaints from tourists.