An ominous video posted to a YouTube channel linked to online-hacker group “Anonymous” is making the rounds. It calls for a “collective day of rage” on Friday, July 15, to protest “the injustices of corrupt officers.”
Tampa is one of 36 cities where protests are said to be planned on Friday. It’s scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at the Hillsborough County Courthouse.
The Tampa Police Department is aware and prepared if there is a protest.
“The time has come to draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough,” a computer-generated voice reads.
The video message claims to be from the notorious online-hacker group.
The video asks citizens to rise up asking for civil disobedience, but condemning any form of rioting or destruction to property.
“Your local 7/11 or Dollar Tree did not cause the deaths of these young men,” the voice says.
There’s also a message to law enforcement: “We are not your enemy, however, it is in your hands if you want us to stay that way.”
The Tampa Police Department says the fact that this is being organized by Anonymous doesn’t change how officers will prepare or respond.
“Sometimes it’s unpredictable. We’re not sure exactly how many people to expect so we prepare for a large crowd, a small crowd, we’re just prepared,” said police spokesperson Steve Hegarty.
Hegarty says the department is ready for any protests and points to both recent protests and the Republican National Convention as evidence that officers are well-practiced in keeping the peace.
“If they’re saying that they want it to be nonviolent, we do, too. So it sounds like we’re on the same page and we anticipate it will be,” he said.
The video and an accompanying statement claims this nationwide call-to-action is in conjunction with Black Lives Matter. 10News WTSP anchor Courtney Robinson, checked to verify the connection. Local organizers with Black Lives Matter said it’s not true. They said they had not heard of this, weren’t involved, and had no plans to show up.
Black Lives Matter organizers did tell 10News they are working to plan a separate event for Saturday. They have yet to release details.