Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

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

Published Aug. 24, 2012

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 Danielson@tampabay.com, (813) 226-3403 or @Danielson_Times on Twitter.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. President Donald Trump speaking during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS  |  AP
    And few people are on the fence.
  2. Former sheriff of Broward County Scott Israel, right, and his attorney Benedict Knuhne wait their turn to speak to the Senate Rules Committee concerning his dismissal by Gov. Ron DeSantis, Monday Oct. 21, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    The full Senate will vote on the issue Wednesday.
  3. Parents of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a shooter killed 17 people in 2018, push petitions for 2020 ban on assault weapons in Florida. (Miami Herald) MIAMI HERALD  |
    After months of glitches, the Department of State is resorting to a paper workaround while ballot initiatives face higher costs.
  4. U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney.
    The Naples Republican recently refused to rule out a vote to impeach President Donald Trump.
  5. Former Pasco County Corrections Officer Wendy Miller, 57 runs towards gunfire with instructor Chris Squitieri during active shooter drills taught by Pasco County Sheriff's Office at Charles S. Rushe Middle School in Land O' Lakes. These drills are put are a larger training program for the Guardian program that will staff elementary schools with trained armed guards.  LUIS SANTANA   |   Times "LUIS SANTANA  |  TIMES"  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The change is a reversal of a previous move by the department, which specifically excluded armed teachers from its policy.
  6. Nearly two dozen victims of Jeffrey Epstein voiced their outrage at a hearing in Manhattan on Aug. 27, 2019. EMILY MICHOT | Miami Herald
    In the wake of several nationwide cases dealing with sexual assault and abuse, advocates are pushing Florida to ease its statutes of limitations
  7. Scott Israel, former Broward County Sheriff speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Davie, Fla. A Florida Senate official is recommending that the sheriff, suspended over his handling of shootings at a Parkland high school and the Fort Lauderdale airport, should be reinstated. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Because Israel is a constitutional officer elected by voters, state law requires that the Senate approve or reject the governor’s decision to remove him from office and gives Israel the opportunity to...
  8. El gobernador de Florida, Ron DeSantis, hace una declaración sobre el hecho de responsabilizar a los funcionarios del gobierno en Fort Lauderdale en el Complejo de Seguridad Pública Ron Cochran el 11 de enero, luego de que nombró al ex sargento de la policía de Coral Springs. Gregory Tony reemplazará a Scott Israel como sheriff del condado de Broward. (Al Díaz / Miami Herald / TNS)
    Several Senate leaders told the Times/Herald they are prepared to accept new evidence during a daylong hearing scheduled for today. They could decide against DeSantis when they vote Wednesday.
  9. District 3 City Council candidates Orlando Acosta, left, and Ed Montanari. Scott Keeler, Chris Urso
    The St. Petersburg City Council races are supposed to be nonpartisan. Partisan politics are leaking into the campaign anyway.
  10. Protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Tallahassee on Monday, Oct. 7, 2019, while a federal judge heard arguments for an against the the Legislature's bill implementing Amendment 4. LAWRENCE MOWER  |  Lawrence Mower
    It’s unclear how state and county officials plan on complying with the judge’s order, however. The “poll tax” issued wasn’t addressed, either.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement