ANONYMOUS, the international network of activists and (sometimes) hactivists, stepped into Arkansas this week with a video challenging the West Memphis Police Department and Gov. Mike Beebe to properly solve the murders of Steve Branch, Michael Moore and Christopher Byers. The boys were eight years old in 1993 when their bodies were found in a West Memphis drainage canal.
A character with robotic motions and speech narrates a brief overview of the case that resulted in the convictions, incarcerations, and eventual freeing of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley, all of whom were teenagers at the time of their arrests a month after the murders. In 2011, in a strange and much-derided move, state officials allowed the three convicted men to be freed if they would plead guilty. The men accepted the deal and pled guilty—while stating at the same time that they were innocent—and were released.
The speaker urges Beebe (pronounced Beeb in the video) to pardon Echols, Baldwin and Misskelley, but the governor recently said he cannot grant such pardons because the men have not gone through the application process.
Addressing the West Memphis police, the speaker in the video said, “You should not let prejudice and friendships guide your investigation rather than evidence from the crime scene itself.” Addressing “the murderers,” the speaker said, “The clock is ticking… You cannot escape justice.”
In a statement posted after the video’s release, Anonymous wrote: “It is not only the right of the people but also the duty of the people to demand that their [public] servants and elected officials do their jobs.”
In response to criticism that the video amounts to a threat, the statement countered that it “merely lets the murder(s) know that time is running out for them to hide from the truth.”
The statement and video are here. The comments section contains a video created by Dr. Mark Cowart, a Tennessee dentist, that compares a partial belonging to Terry Hobbs, stepfather of victim Stevie Branch, with bite marks found on Branch’s body.