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Protests, Security at the Republican National Convention

A security bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI garnered wide media attention over the past twenty-four to forty-eight hours, raising the specter of possible “anarchist” violence or “terrorism.” The bulletin was largely state propaganda designed to whip up fear ahead of the convention. Given that there has been no preemptive raid against activists there to protest, the publicizing of this bulletin could be aimed at giving agencies cover if something happens.

I appeared on RT America on Friday night to discuss the bulletin, the possibility that drones will be used to police the RNC and what I predict could happen with protesters and security forces during the convention.

I’ll add the following to what was said during the above segment—

An aspect of the bulletin that I unintentionally omitted from the post I published yesterday notes the different “indicators” the FBI might look for to discern that “anarchist extremists” had an “increased capability” to “criminally disrupt or threaten public safety.”

— (U//FOUO) Anarchist extremists advocating violence;
— (U//FOUO) Anarchist extremists focusing their violent disruption efforts on one of the conventions more than the other, thereby concentrating their resources;
— (U//FOUO) Reports of collaboration of resources, abilities, and funds with other violent extremist movements, such as animal rights extremists or environmental extremists;
— (U//FOUO) Reports of preparation for violence against opposing violent extremist movements attending the conventions, particularly white supremacist extremists;*
— (U//FOUO) Participation in firearms training by anarchist extremists;
— (U//FOUO) Reports of collaboration with overseas anarchist extremists; and
— (U//FOUO) Reports of training for criminal activity specifically targeting one or both national political conventions.

The FBI suggest there could be a battle on the streets between anarchists and white supremacists, which seems like the product of authoritarian fantasy. Each one of these items reflect the deep bias the agency has against “anarchists” and how they have historically perceived this group. For example, the agency has long marginalized and targeted environmental activist groups by going after “anarchists” in the movement.

Then, there are the factors that might “mitigate the threat of anarchist extremists using violence to criminally disrupt or threaten public safety”:

— (U//FOUO) Lack of participation from anarchist extremists from other parts of the
— (U//FOUO) Inclement weather and effective crowd control possibly deterring
anarchist extremist actions;
— (U//FOUO) Prior law enforcement confiscation or destruction of materials that
could be used to construct IIDs or items that could be used as weapons; and
— (U//FOUO) Law enforcement arrests prior to the conventions deterring further
actions by anarchist extremists

The key there is the last one. It clearly shows authorities will round up activists and deprive them of their right to protest and perhaps even fit them up with “terrorism” charges in order to “protect” the RNC from some “threat” that may or may not exist, depending on the extent of involvement of an FBI agent, informant or an infiltrator in the action leading up to the arrest(s).

The federal authorities might be using this “behavior recognition” surveillance camera technology to weed out “anarchists” at the RNC (& Democratic National Convention). (h/t TomThumb)

Yesterday, Firedoglake‘s David Dayen covered the possibility that drones will be used for surveillance during the RNC. Federal authorities have now denied that drones will be flying in the skies with permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). But, that does not mean there won’t be drones.

From the executive editor of the local newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, that ran the story:

“Federal and local officials responsible for RNC security have responded to our front-page story today, saying they have no plans to make use of drones over the skies of Tampa during the convention.

“This is in direct conflict with what Curt Winter, an employee of United Drones, told Tribune reporter Howard Altman on Thursday for his story. Then this morning, Mr. Winter called Mr. Altman back to say he misspoke regarding a statement he made yesterday about receiving a waiver from the FAA to operate the drones.

“Mr. Winter did not, however, back off from other statements he made on Thursday regarding the company’s role in operating drones during the convention. We are continuing to report out the story.”

The story now raises questions on whether government could ever effectively regulate drones. The FAA hasn’t signed off but a company still believes it could operate the drones anyway.

Camp Romneyville will be something to keep an eye on throughout the convention. Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, which has planned a march for the opening day of the convention, has setup this encampment, which the city has decided not to clear out, even though they’re in the restricted “event zone.”

City officials told the council that they had issued zoning violation notices to some property owners two days earlier, warning that camping and tents on the site were not permitted.

But the property owners have 21 days to act, meaning that any actual evictions would not occur before the August 27-30 Republican presidential nominating convention is over.

This affects whether Occupy Tampa has an encampment. Both Camp Romneyville and any Occupy Tampa encampment are likely to be areas where security forces swarm during the convention.

Finally, a “lulzy” police announcement on the upcoming convention. Some punchlines:

“It is their [protesters] intent to bait us into using force against them so it can be captured on videotape and shown to the world as excessive force.”

“It is important that we not break rank.”

And, “The RNC is democracy in action.”

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."