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Late Night: What Leon Rosby’s Murdered Dog Means: The NSA, Free Speech, Citizen Reporters and More

Over the last week and a half the interwebs have been engulfed by a state of righteous raaaaage over the shooting of a family pet by a Hawthorne, California police officer. And the response shows why the NSA’s surveillance plans could go horribly wrong and victimize the wrong people.

When the video of Hawthorne Police shooting and killing the dog appeared on YouTube–it now has over 4.5 million hits–Internet denizens went to work compiling information on the police officer involved in order to “dox” him–get his name, address, phone number etc. Except they kinda made some errors. They targeted an officer named Swain. Except Swain was not the  officer who did the shooting, but rather the Hawthorne Police Dept spokesperson.

Armed with incorrect information, the cyber sleuths then found a business in the greater Southern California area called Swain’s. In Glendale. Twenty-four miles away and in a whole other city. Putting two and two together, and getting far <9,000, the self-styled superheroes posted Swain’s Art Supply info and the non-stop hostile phone calls to the business began. It got so bad the business had to go to the media and plead for it to stop.

So how does this fit into PRISM, Echelon, Raptor etc? Well, granted those are computer programs. But computers are programmed by humans. And ultimately the decisions to follow through are made by humans. Humans who can and do make mistakes. And  humans work for the NSA and their contractors, so simple math would say at some point one of them is going to make a mistake.

Meanwhile, Anonymous, who claim to  support free speech, effectively squelched  it by DDOSing the  City of Hawthorne’s website. The city claims because it can’t post the city council agenda, they can’t have a meeting. According to NBC-LA:

The city clerk’s office told NBC4 that the regularly scheduled meeting would be canceled because it is required by the state open meeting law — known as the Brown Act — to publicly post the agenda prior to meeting.

“As you are aware, due to the public maelstrom of emotion caused by the police incident involving the Rottweiler, the city website crashed. The website has been down for nearly one week,” said Mayor Daniel Juarez in an email to NBC4. “The Brown Act requires that city council agendas shall be posted on the ‘local agency’s Internet Web site, if the local agency has one.'”

Of course one could argue that right now, the city doesn’t have a website, so the Brown Act does not apply (and the downed website/we can’t have a meeting thing is pretty convenient for the beleaguered politicians of Hawthorne who would like this to all go away).

And why did this family pet get shot? Because Leon Rosby, who has repeatedly sued the Hawthorn Police Department, was video taping an incident on his street. The police arrested him for obstruction of justice.


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Lisa Derrick

Lisa Derrick

Los Angeles native, attended UC Berkeley and Loyola Marymount University before punk rock and logophilia overtook her life. Worked as nightclub columnist, pop culture journalist and was a Hollywood housewife before writing for and editing Sacred History Magazine. Then she discovered the thrill of politics. She also appears frequently on the Dave Fanning Show, one of Ireland's most popular radio broadcasts.