While Tropical Storm Issac slowly churns its way across the Caribbean towards Tampa, doing its best to become a full fledged hurricane, officials in Tampa have another potential threat on their minds. In addition to the possibility that a hurricane could arrive in Tampa just in time for the start of the Republican convention next Monday, the FBI has alerted law enforcement officials that violent anarchists are heading for Tampa.
A joint FBI-Department of Homeland Security bulletin was sent out to law enforcement agencies throughout the United States to be on the lookout for protesters who are on their way to Tampa to cause mayhem and destroy property. The bulletin specifically mentioned a group of anarchists from New York City who may attempt to block bridges and roads, shut down public transportation, and throw acid filled eggs at convention delegates.
The bulletin is titled “Potential For Violent or Criminal Action By Anarchist Extremists During The 2012 National Political Conventions.” The bulletin states that, because the protesters do not have the numbers to overcome the intense security at the actual convention site, they may target local businesses and vulnerable access points to the city.
Law enforcement officials were warned:
“During past national and international political and economic events, anarchist extremists have blocked streets, intersections, and bridges to disrupt or impede local business operations and public transportation access and, in some instances have initiated violent confrontations with police.”
Both the Republican and Democratic Convention have been designated “National Special Security Events.” This allows security for the conventions to be coordinated by the United States Secret Service, who will serve as command and control for all federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.
Earlier this week, bricks and pipes were found on a rooftop near the convention center along with anarchist graffiti. Police are investigating the possibility of a tie-in between the materials found on the roof and a video claiming to be from the Anonymous hacker group. The video was received on August 15, and it hinted at possible violence.
In the video, potential protesters were told:
“You have an opportunity to fight back at the Republican National Convention. How you fight back is up to you … but it is a fact that flowers and holding up signs stopped working long ago.”
Tampa police Chief Jane Castor discussed the situation, telling reporters:
“We have said all along that the vast majority of individuals coming to the Tampa Bay area to demonstrate will do so peacefully but there is no doubt that there is a small percentage that will come bent on destruction and disruption, and those are the individuals that we will deal with very quickly.”
Due to the potential for violence, the city of Tampa is bolstering its forces by bringing in additional law enforcement personnel from across the state of Florida. The extra manpower is being paid for from a special 50 million dollar fund set up by Congress to assist Tamp, and Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the upcoming Democratic Convention.
At this point, only one thing is certain. The city of Tampa can bring in law enforcement officers by the thousands, and it will not do any good in stopping Mother Nature and Tropical Storm Issac. If Issac turns into a full blown Hurricane or even if it remains a tropical storm with winds of ‘just’ 50 miles per hour, both police and protesters alike are in for a soggy, uncomfortable time at the Republican Convention.