Skip to main content

Agencies warn of possible anarchist activity at conventions

By Carol Cratty, CNN Senior Producer
August 23, 2012 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Intelligence bulletin prepared ahead of national political conventions
  • It warns of possible activity by anarchist groups
  • Bulletin cites concerns over bridges, infrastructure

Washington (CNN) -- Law enforcement officials are concerned about possible violence by anarchist extremists at the upcoming Republican and Democratic national conventions, according to an intelligence bulletin prepared by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

The bulletin, which was obtained by CNN, says that anarchists could try to use improvised explosive devices.

It also 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 Republican National Convention next week.

Drama is rare in modern conventions

CNN Explains: Political conventions
Vice President headed to Tampa
CNN sending three iReporters to Tampa
Gergen: Ryan energizes GOP for convention

According to the document, the FBI's information as of March showed that anarchist extremists proposed "engaging in potentially destructive criminal activities against critical infrastructure outside the security perimeter throughout the Tampa Bay region because they expected access to the main RNC venue to be tightly controlled."

The FBI routinely issues intelligence bulletins in advance of many major events to warn local law enforcement of possible security concerns.

The document notes anarchists have a history of trying to disrupt major events.

"During past national and international political and economic events, anarchist extremists have blocked streets, intersections, and bridges to disrupt or impede local business operations and public transportation access and, in some instances have initiated violent confrontations with police," the document states.

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.

The anarchists also talked about identifying the location of police stations and emergency routes, according to law enforcement officials. The document, however, doesn't provide details of what anarchists allegedly wanted to do with that information.

"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 Democratic National Convention is being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, in early September.

Politics, parties keep some away from conventions

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.

The notice warns of certain things state and local law enforcement should be on the watch for. Those include anarchists acquiring materials that could be used to make improvised explosive devices, obtaining firearms training and preparing for violence with groups they oppose -- such as white supremacists.

Anarchists often research potential targets, according to the bulletin.

Law enforcement officials cite the arrest in late April of five Ohio men for allegedly plotting to blow up a bridge over the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland. Authorities said at least three of the men are self-proclaimed anarchists who had considered "a series of evolving plots over several months."

The bulletin says the suspected anarchists conducted surveillance and did research on the Internet. The five pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A few memorable convention moments

Are you going to the RNC? Share your sights and sounds with us on CNN iReport.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Get all the latest news at CNN's Election Center. There are race updates, a delegate counter and much more.
A black man is returning to the White House. Four years ago, it was a first, the breaking of a racial barrier. Tuesday night, it was history redux. And more.
The 2012 presidential election shattered spending records, further polarized a divided country and launched a thousand hashtags.
November 8, 2012 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
Democratic and Republican congressional leaders continue to sharply disagree over the key issue of whether top tax rates should be raised to help resolve the looming crisis.
November 7, 2012 -- Updated 1924 GMT (0324 HKT)
In a historic turnaround, the ballot box is showing America's shifting attitudes about same-sex marriage.
Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
November 8, 2012 -- Updated 0919 GMT (1719 HKT)
The president faces a long and familiar set of challenges after riding a wave of support from moderates, women and minorities to victory.
November 7, 2012 -- Updated 1427 GMT (2227 HKT)
Republicans kept a lock on the U.S. House of Representatives, a crucial victory after the party failed to wrest away the presidency from Barack Obama and the Senate from the Democrats.
November 8, 2012 -- Updated 0034 GMT (0834 HKT)
Democrats will retain their control of the Senate after winning several closely contested races on Tuesday.
ADVERTISEMENT