Hacker Sentenced in Ferguson-Inspired Cyber Attack on St. Louis Police Union

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A cyber attack launched by a St. Louis man (not shown) was inspired by the hacker group Anonymous, authorities say. - IMAGE VIA YOUTUBE
  • Image via YouTube
  • A cyber attack launched by a St. Louis man (not shown) was inspired by the hacker group Anonymous, authorities say.

A Ferguson protester linked to the hacker collective Anonymous was sentenced Monday to federal prison for orchestrating a cyber attack that knocked out a St. Louis police union’s website after the death of Michael Brown.

Justin Payne, 33, pleaded guilty in September to the online blitz as well as possession of a Molotov cocktail. He was sentenced to 30 months behind bars.



Payne, using Twitter accounts for “Rebel but Gangster Black Rebels,” used a “distributed denial-of-services” attack to overwhelm the bandwidth of the St. Louis County Police Association site. The DDoS onslaught on December 2, 2014 shut down the site — and drew the attention of the FBI. Federal investigators quickly traced the attack to Payne and the Rebel but Gangster Twitter account.

The RbG offensive launched in conjunction with Operation Ferguson, a project of Anonymous, authorities said. The hacker group threatened to “attack every server and computer” belonging to cops and Ferguson city government if police abused protesters demonstrating after a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in eighteen-year-old Brown’s death.



Payne, a former Veterans Affairs worker, was arrested in March. Investigators said they found messages related to killing police on his Twitter account. They discovered the Molotov cocktail while searching his car.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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