HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
May 14, 2007, Herald Journal

Twin Cities need to be ready

By ROZ KOHLS

The Republican National Convention will be in 2008 in the Twin Cities. As night follows day, every protester, demonstrator, activist, anarchist, and yes, even a few terrorists will gravitate to the convention site.

I hope the Twin Cities police, who are responsible for security, follow New York City’s lead in 2004, instead of Seattle’s security during the World Trade Organization protest in 1999.

In Seattle, the mayor and chief of police trusted the “peaceful” protest organizations to quell violence among themselves, instead of having the police present security in overwhelming numbers. The arsonists and violence instigators weren’t part of the organized “peaceful” protest organizations, however. They hid among them, but the organizations had no power over them.

The instigators made quick dashes out of the main crowd to torch a car or smash a store window, and then ran back to hide.

What’s worse, the police were ordered to keep their riot gear out of sight so as not to “intimidate” the protestors. The riot gear was kept a block away from the line of officers. When violence erupted, the police ran out of tear gas within the first 90 minutes, and it took an hour for the police to get their gear. The police were immediately overwhelmed.

It’s almost as if the Seattle mayor and police chief believed violence is unintended, until it is triggered by police.

New York City police handled the 2004 convention much better. They had gathered intelligence about the protesters, starting 18 months earlier, so they were ready.

Judith Miller of the Wall Street Journal itemized in a May 6 article what the violent activists, who hid among the protesters, intended eight weeks before the convention in 2004:

• enter Madison Square Garden with false identification.

• blind bus driver windows.

• disable charter buses.

• clog bus routes.

• harass delegates at 24 hotels.

• disrupt normal hotel business.

• close down Wall Street.

• disrupt traffic in Herald Square.

• crash delegate parties.

• stage sit-ins in hotel and office lobbies.

• seal off subway stations.

• switch signs to disorient delegates.

• vandalize retail stores.

• disrupt Broadway performances.

• block entrances to corporations, such as the Rand Corporation and Hummer of Manhattan.

• break windows.

• set fires.

• throw Molotov cocktails, and ammonium-nitrate bombs with nails.

• squirt water guns filled with flammable liquids and chemical irritants.

• aim mobile infrared transmitters at semaphores to change traffic signals.

Ashira Affinity, a Colorado-based anarchist group, summed up their intention. Their protests would be “strategic, ruthless, efficient, as well as chaotic.”

Miller said the Twin Cities has fewer than 600 police. New York has 37,000 in uniform.

Tim Lynaugh, the Twin Cities police officer assigned to convention planning, told Miller they will not emulate New York’s surveillance program.

They better change their minds.