Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Politics

RNC security zones set around Tampa Bay bridges as feds warn of threats

The Coast Guard says it will ban loitering, stopping, mooring or anchoring boats within 50 yards of 15 Tampa Bay-area bridges during the Republican National Convention.

The ban will be enforced 24 hours a day around the three main bridges across Tampa Bay — the Gandy, Howard Frankland and Courtney Campbell — from noon Saturday to 1 a.m. Aug. 31.

The ban will be enforced at another dozen bridges in Pinellas County at times when delegate buses are likely to cross them on their way to the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"Current analysis indicates that some activist groups are planning maritime activities to make their political views known," the Coast Guard said in the rule, which was published Thursday in the Federal Register. "The geography of the Tampa Bay region makes these 15 bridges a vital component of the regional transportation network."

Boats can pass through the security zones but must be "expeditious," the temporary rule says.

In a second temporary rule also published Thursday, the Coast Guard said it is establishing moving security zones around cargo ships carrying anhydrous ammonia, liquified propane gas and ammonium nitrate to and from the Port of Tampa. No other boats will be allowed within 500 yards of those cargo vessels from Saturday through Aug. 31.

Word of the bans comes as two television news networks were reporting that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday issued a joint warning about potential attacks by anarchist extremists and possible plans to tie up the bay area's bridges during the RNC.

The bulletin said 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, according to CNN and Fox News.

Transportation is a critical element for the convention, which kicks off Sunday evening with a welcome party for 20,000 journalists, delegates and dignitaries at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Because downtown Tampa doesn't have enough hotel rooms in the immediate proximity of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, delegates, members of the media and other visitors will stay in hotels on both sides of Tampa Bay. Of the approximately 16,000 rooms, nearly a third are in Pinellas County. A fleet of 450 charter buses will carry conventioneers to and from the Times Forum.

The FBI-Homeland Security 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 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, 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 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." At the 2008 RNC in St. Paul, Minn., the bulletin said, anarchists discussed blocking bridges and skywalks, taking over a radio station, targeting corporations and identifying hotels where delegates were staying.

"FBI and (Homeland Security) 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.

Richard Danielson can be reached at [email protected], (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

Comments
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Updated: 5 hours ago
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18
Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

Erosion of immigrant protections began with Trump inaugural

The Trump administration’s move to separate immigrant parents from their children on the U.S.-Mexico border has grabbed attention around the world, drawn scorn from human-rights organizations and overtaken the immigration debate in Congress.It’s also...
Published: 06/17/18

Pasco Political Notebook

Perenich to ‘Walk the District’Stephen Perenich, Democratic candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, Florida District 12, will be "Walking the District" June 25-29. Perenich will be walking 55 miles in five days, starting in Dade City and heading...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18
GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

GOP lawmakers decry family separations as WH defends policy

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans distanced themselves Thursday from the Trump administration’s aggressive policy of separating children from their parents at the southern border even as the White House cited the Bible in defending its "zero tol...
Published: 06/14/18
Sarah Sanders and  Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Sarah Sanders and Raj Shah are planning to step down, per CBS report

Press secretary Sarah Sanders and principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah are considering stepping down, according to a CBS report. Sanders promptly responded in a Tweet saying, "I love my job and am honored to work for @POTUS." Does @CBSNews k...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

Fed raises key rate and sees possible acceleration in hikes

WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve has raised its benchmark interest rate for the second time this year and signaled that it may step up its pace of rate increases because of solid economic growth and rising inflation. The Fed now foresees four rate hi...
Published: 06/13/18