Image: People wearing masks often used by a group that calls itself "Anonymous" take part in a rally in Madrid
Arturo Rodriguez  /  AP, file
People wearing masks often used by a group that calls itself "Anonymous" take part in a rally in Madrid, in this May 15, 2011 file photo.
updated 6/28/2011 4:50:49 AM ET 2011-06-28T08:50:49

The hacker group Anonymous on Monday declared war against the city of Orlando, Florida, over the arrest of people handing out food to homeless people, according to a report in The Washington Post.

In a press release, the group announced the creation of "Operation Orlando" over the city's treatment of the Food Not Bombs group.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that what started as a spat over distributing food without a permit in a park had escalated, with Mayor Buddy Dyer describing the activists charged with the misdemeanor offense as "food terrorists."

Anonymous seizes Tunisian government site

This prompted one member, Ben Markeson, to threaten to file a defamation suit, the Sentinel reported.

The Anonymous press release said the city had "ignored our warnings, and our generous offer of a cease fire."

'Human rights abusers'
"On Wednesday last you not only arrested two more people for feeding but you arrested the worldwide President of Food Not Bombs Keith McHenry. This is a declaration of war," it said.

"Henceforth there will be no more cease fires, no more attempts to get you to resolve this issue with human decency. We will now treat you like the human rights abusers that you are," it added.

Video: 'Anonymous' hackers have their say (on this page)

Anonymous said it would start "a massive campaign" against Orlando and "city web assets."

It said it would send emails to millions of people in 50 countries asking them to boycott the city.

Story: PBS website hacked again, some data taken

Anonymous said it would remove from the internet at 10 a.m. ET Tuesday until 6 p.m. ET.

It also said it would also target the owners of this site, identified as "Utopia, Inc" rather than the city itself.

Story: Hacker group LulzSec says it's done

Anonymous said the owner of the site could have it removed from the "target list" by "releasing a statement to the press in support of Food Not Bombs and calling on the City of Orlando to stop the arrests."

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Video: 'Anonymous' hackers have their say

  1. Closed captioning of: 'Anonymous' hackers have their say

    >>> back in this country tonight, nbc news has been given an exclusive look inside the secretive organization known as anonymous . a loose knit group of computer hackers who came to the defense of wikileaks and got the attention of law enforcement in the process. they are young and stealth and possible cyber killers. michael isikoff has more on this from our d.c. newsroom.

    >> reporter: the group has spooked major u.s. corporations. the pentagon is now singling them out as an example of the serious new cyber threats facing the country. barrett brown is an underground commander in a new warfare.

    >> it's a cyber war .

    >> reporter: brown calls himself a senior strategist for annan anonymo anonymous , a loose connection of tech savvy creditors who brought down the websites of visa and mastercard last december.

    >> we sent a message, we don't appreciate you working with the feds.

    >> reporter: the feds, the fbi is now investigating anonymous for those attacks. raiding homes and issuing dozens of subpoenas.

    >> it's amusing.

    >> reporter: a self-described anarchist, brown claims he's policing wrong doing at least as anonymous describes it. you may not know that wikileaks is protected by anonymous --

    >> reporter: joked about by some, but very serious. they call themselves hacktivists. in public protests, they hide their identities behind masks.

    >> when we break laws, we do so in service of civil disobedience .

    >> reporter: targets like h.b. gary , a major security firm some agencies rely on to keep their computers safe. last week, h.b. gary threatened to expose anonymous . the ceo resigned. how did they do it? it was tech savvy, to be sure. but also an old fashioned con. brown says a 16-year-old girl posed as h.b. gary 's founder in e-mails and tricked the computer security manager to reset his password. anonymous is credited with bringing down websites in tunisia, libya and egypt. now it's made new threats against companies and government officials complicit in what it views as the mistreatment of bradley manning.

    >> anonymous is powerful enough that it certainly instruction fear into the hearts of the biggest technology companies in the whole world.

    >> we got stuck in this --

    >> reporter: they claim to have a version of the stucksnet computer virus that was used to bring down the iranian nuclear program for several months.

    >> that's a dangerous piece of information. it's dangerous software. it shouldn't have been floating around like that.

    >> it shouldn't be in the hands of anonymous , but it is. c'est la vie.

    >> reporter: brown told us he's not personally involved in any computer hawking, but he expects they will come after him. we spoke to h. bfrmt gary 's founder who called the members of anonymous criminals, breaking into computer systems and stealing information.

    >> michael isikoff , thank you.

    >>> from southern california tonight, a


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