An “open source assessment” of Occupy Wall Street’s planned May Day protest produced by the NYPD SHIELD counterterrorism program warns of possible “militant eletments” among the protesters and a variety of “disruptive activities” including “vandalism” and “a blockade of New York City bridges, tunnels, and ferries.” This evening, Twitter accounts affiliated with Occupy Wall Street began sending out the assessment, which was identified as “leaked.”
Paul Browne, the NYPD’s chief spokesperson, said the document was “hardly ‘leaked.’”
“This is a summary of stuff the press has reported on all week and that has been disseminated on OWS related sites,” Mr. Browne said. “It was sent on our website used by thousands of security directors for universities, hospitals, corporations, and other employers who are welcome to share it with anyone they want, and who do.”
SHIELD is a counterterrorism program that involves sharing information with private sector security directors.
In the assessment, the NYPD warns May Day could cause trouble for commuters. According to the police, protesters are planning “attempts to block Manhattan-bound automotive traffic at bridges and tunnels, as well as protesters attempting to block ferry passengers.”
The NYPD paid particular attention to a “wildcat march” the police have identified as a likely to have an increased “level of militancy:”
“Due to its unpermitted nature, it is possible that participants in the Wildcat March will engage in Black Bloc tactics and seek to directly engage law enforcement to heighten the level of militancy and set the tempo of the overall General Strike. The demonstration itself is not officially sanctioned by OWS and sources indicate that organizers ‘from occupy, labor, and immigrant rights organizations have expressed distance from…activities like the Wildcat Strike march, which is a likely indication of expected militancy during the march.”
“Political fissures that are present within the OWS movement may impact the strategies of demonstrators during individual protest actions; in particular, the Wildcat March is not an officially sanctioned OWS march and may attract militant elements from inside and outside the OWS movement that may seek to directly confront law enforcement officials using barricades, riot shields, and possibly weapons such as pipes and rocks.”
It’s easy to see why the NYPD would be eager to disseminate this assessment of the May Day protest. The depcition of the protesters as potentially violent, divided and likely to disrupt traffic is hardly likely to enlist sympathy for the movement.