Manhole covers spot welded into place. 100 spy-in-the-sky cameras focused on downtown streets. Mobile detection units ready to go. Helicopters set to deploy assault forces. Highway exits leading into the city closed. Fences and barricades built around a no-go zone and a tightly controlled perimeter. Fully armed mobile field force units in place and on standby alert.
Am I describing Baghdad? Nope. It’s my hometown of St. Paul as it prepares for the start of the Republican Convention tomorrow.
The Secret Service has been working with local, state and federal agencies for the past 15 months to prepare for the convention. The FBI has set up an Intelligence Operations Center at a secret location where they will investigate tips from law-enforcement agencies and a joint operations center to be used in response to a crisis. The federal government awarded a $50 million dollar grant to the St. Paul PD to help defray security costs.
Just as in Denver, St. Paul is taking no chances that protests might get out of hand and chaos may ensue.
Acting on tips from informants who have infiltrated protest groups, suspected anarchists already have been arrested. Police have raided buildings in St. Paul and Minneapolis and have confiscated a gun, throwing knives, flammable liquids, rocks, paints, and those traditional protestor weapons, buckets of urine and feces.
Truly, the anarchists have little chance of disrupting or shutting down the Republican Convention, anymore than they did in Denver, given the massive security efforts designed to prevent it from happening.
Yet, as Gustav bears down on New Orleans, the President and Vice-President have cancelled their scheduled appearances. Delegates from Louisiana and Mississippi have joined the growing list of politicians who have decided not to attend. The convention may be cut short by at least a day if not more. Instead of a celebratory party, the convention may become a fundraiser for victims of the possible disaster.
In a truly ironic twist of fate, it turns out that Mother Nature may accomplish exactly what the anarchists so desperately desired.