Reports: Feds warn of possible anarchist attacks, attempts to tie up Tampa Bay area bridges during RNC
Two television news networks are reporting that federal agencies Wednesday warned state and local law enforcement officials about violent threats believed posed by anarchist extremists and possible plans to tie up the Tampa Bay area’s bridges during next week’s Republican National Convention.
The warning came in the form of an intelligence bulletin issued jointly by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, according to CNN and Fox News.
The bulletin reportedly says that, as of March, the FBI had intelligence indicating individuals from New York "planned to travel to Tampa and attempt to close" all of the Tampa Bay-area bridges during the RNC, which kicks off Sunday evening with a welcome party for 20,000 journalists, delegates and dignitaries at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Delegates, members of the media and other visitors will stay in hotels on both sides of Tampa Bay, and a fleet of 450 charter buses will carry conventioneers to and from the Tampa Bay Times Forum in downtown Tampa, where the convention will be held.
The bulletin says that law enforcement agencies believe most protesters at the conventions will obey laws and not commit violent acts, but that anarchists are the most likely exceptions.
Fox News reported that the bulletin, titled "Potential For Violent or Criminal Action By Anarchist Extremists During The 2012 National Political Conventions," says anarchist extremists probably can’t get past the high fences, roadblocks and other tight security that will surround the convention itself.
So instead, the network reported that the bulletin said extremists could target nearby infrastructure outside the convention's secure perimeter, including businesses and transit systems and could use tactics that include throwing molotov cocktails or acid-filled eggs.
CNN reported that the bulletin notes that anarchists have a history of trying to disrupt major events by blocking streets, intersections and bridges, interfering with business or public transportation and in some instances have “initiated violent confrontations with police.”
The agencies said that before the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, anarchists discussed blocking bridges and sky walks, taking over a radio station, targeting corporations and identifying hotels where delegates were staying.
"FBI and DHS assess with high confidence anarchist extremists will target similar infrastructure in Tampa and Charlotte, with potentially significant impacts on public safety and transportation," according to the law enforcement alert.
The notice warns state and local law enforcement to watch for, among other things, anarchists acquiring materials that could be used to make bombs, obtaining firearms training and preparing for violence with groups they oppose such as white supremacists.