Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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.

Bridge zones

The Coast Guard will ban anyone from loitering, stopping, mooring or anchoring 24 hours a day at these bridges from noon Saturday through 1 a.m. Aug. 31:

• Gandy Bridge

• Howard Frankland Bridge

• Courtney Campbell Causeway

The Coast Guard is establishing a similar ban for shorter periods of time at 12 more bridges:

• Clearwater Memorial Causeway

• Sand Key Bridge

• Belleair Causeway Bridge

• Walsingham Road Bridge

• Park Boulevard

• Tom Stuart Causeway

• Seminole Bridge

• Johns Pass Bridge

• Treasure Island Causeway

• Corey Causeway

• Blind Pass Bridge

• Pinellas Bayway Structures A, B and C

Security zones will be enforced for those 12 bridges on this schedule:

• 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday.

• 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.

• 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

See map in Sports, 2C

RNC security zones set around Tampa Bay bridges as feds warn of threats 08/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012 11:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning: Jon Cooper takes unusual tact to create mistmatches

    Lightning Strikes

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  2. Editorial: A neighborhood under attack unites

    Editorials

    Three murders in two weeks understandably have Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood on edge. But Tampa police and residents are working together to find the killer and are connecting in ways that will strengthen the community in the long run. This is the best reaction to the tragedy of the three deaths, and it should …

    Seminole Heights residents came together in a candlelight vigil Sunday night to pay respect to the families and to demonstrate that they will not be cowed into staying indoors.
  3. Students at middle school pretend to rape black classmates on Snapchat

    Nation

    The Snapchat had just about every offensive topic the middle school students could cram into a video clip: race-based simulated sexual assaults, profanity-laced slurs and repulsive language that shocked whoever the intended audience was - and, eventually, many more people.

    Students at a Virginia middle school pretended to rape other students on video, which was shared on Snapchat. Reports say white members of a football team enacted the rape scenes while in the locker room. This photo of a standard locker room is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
  4. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella's American Folk Art Cafe. Times files
  5. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees

    Airlines

    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]