(Photo credit: St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Robert Cohen/Associated Press)
CNN Money reported today that the Anonymous network revealed on Twitter today who it believed was behind Michael Brown’s shooting. The group had pressed Ferguson’s police department to reveal the name of the officer … or else.
Well, after or-else-ing things out it only took a few hours before their Twitter account was suspended. While Ferguson police still hasn’t confirmed the individual’s identity it has indicated that the individual named by Anonymous was not the correct one.
The Columbia Journalism Review published an interesting article concerning the legality of withholding the officer’s name.
The author, Jonathan Peters, an attorney, mentions two particular laws that police can use as justification to withhold the officer’s name. The “Missouri Sunshine Law”, Peters reports, carries a subsection which states the following:
“if any portion of a record or document of a law enforcement officer or agency (…) contains information that is reasonably likely to pose a clear and present danger to the safety of any victim, witness, undercover officer, or other person (…) that portion of the record shall be closed and shall be redacted from any record made available pursuant to this chapter.”
The other subsection deals with the public right to know versus the well-being of the officer:
In making the determination as to whether information contained in an investigative report shall be disclosed, the court shall consider whether the benefit to the person bringing the action or to the public outweighs any harm to the public, to the law enforcement agency or any of its officers.
The law definitely is on the side of the police force because, as Peters says, “(t)he language is broad enough”.