Let the fear-mongering begin! Downtown braces for Occupy Pittsburgh (UPDATED) | Slag Heap

Let the fear-mongering begin! Downtown braces for Occupy Pittsburgh (UPDATED)

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Occupy Pittsburgh is still a day away ... but already building owners are being warned to batten down the hatches. 

Pittsburgh's Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security has issued a Threat Assessment to property owners and public-safety officials. Among its fears: that protesters may try to steal building-security uniforms and "prob[e] ... security response time and capability."

The memo, which is based on "open source" material found online, does acknolwedge that "[d]iscussions on social media have maintained a focus on non-violent behavior" and it quotes the following Facebook posting made by an Occupy organizer:

Let it be known that this movement will not be compromised. We are adopting a non-violence "policy" (in which our workgroup is working very hard on- will be posted) and anyone who begins a state of anarchy or incites any kind of violence should expect to be arrested, fined, and in jail for up to 90 days. Violent acts are immediate grounds for expulsion from the movement, and you will be fed to the cops.

That comment -- particularly the part about being "fed to the cops" -- generated considerable dissent. (ADDED: And some confusion -- please note my comment below.) That's in no small part because the statement had not posted with the approval of the General Assembly process, which determines the protest's message and tactics. However, at a Wednesday night gathering, the General Assembly did agree to a "tactical non-violence" policy that asserts in part:

[W]e agree ... while at or near Occupy Pittsburgh’s encampment or actions:

  • not to initiate physical violence with members of the police or public,
  • if attacked by either, to respond in ways that seek to minimize harm to persons, and
  • to abstain from provocative destruction of property.

Still, the threat assessment urges building owners to be on the lookout for "Lost/ missing/stolen facility uniforms- security, maintenance, or other facility specific uniforms which would allow unsuspecting access" as well as for those who may be engaged in "Testing security- triggering alarms or probing incidents to evaluate security response time and capability."

Here's my guess: Absolutely none of these things will take place. But somebody's lunch may get blown up anyway. 

UPDATE: Looks like the US Steel Tower -- which is just across the street from Occupy Pittsburgh's hoped-for encampment -- plans to surround the structure with barriers. We just received an e-mail from a building tenant advising that as long as the protest last, "the perimeter of the U.S. Steel Tower will be cordoned off by a physical barrier, which will restrict access to the building."

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