Domestic terrorism at the GOP convention

| September 10, 2008

The mainstream media gave little or no coverage to the various attempts to disrupt the RNC in St. Paul, but the investigators at Stratfor make it clear just how serious these attempts were:

On Sept. 5, two men from Austin, Texas, were charged in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis in connection with a plot to disrupt the Republican National Convention (RNC) held in St. Paul, Minn., last week. According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, each man was charged with one count of possessing Molotov cocktails.

In the complaint, authorities noted that one of the men, Bradley Crowder, was arrested Sept. 1 for disorderly conduct. The second man, David McKay, was apparently arrested Sept. 1 but then released. McKay was arrested a second time after a search warrant on the apartment at which he and Crowder were staying in St. Paul uncovered a total of eight completed Molotov cocktails. Authorities claim that Crowder and McKay had planned to use the Molotov cocktails against police vehicles in a parking lot near the apartment where they had stayed. According to an FBI affidavit, law enforcement officers used electronic means to monitor a conversation McKay had about using the incendiary devices. In the monitored conversation, McKay reportedly said, “…it’s worth it if an officer gets burned or maimed.”

Crowder and McKay, who were part of a small cell of activists that called itself the Austin Affinity Group, also brought a rented trailer to St. Paul that contained 35 improvised riot shields made from stolen traffic barrels. According to an FBI affidavit, the shields included protruding screws — an indication that they were not just defensive shields, but offensive weapons that could be used against the police. During the execution of the search warrant on the men’s apartment, police also recovered gas masks, slingshots, helmets and kneepads — items that underscore the protesters’ plans to actively resist the police.

Crowder and McKay were not the only ones planning to use potentially deadly means to disrupt the RNC. On Aug. 30, Matthew DePalma of Flint, Mich., was arrested by agents from the Joint Terrorism Task Force at a residence in Minneapolis and found to be in possession of five Molotov cocktails. DePalma was also charged in Federal District Court with possession of the devices. According to an affidavit, DePalma told an FBI source that he planned to use the Molotov cocktails on police. In one conversation, DePalma reportedly told the FBI source, “I will light one of those pigs on fire.” . . .

During the spring, the RNCWC [“RNC Welcoming Committee”] conducted a nationwide tour during which it traveled to, or communicated with, affinity groups in 67 cities. On May 3 it hosted a second pre-RNC conference in St. Paul called the “5.3,” which was attended by more than 100 activists representing at least 40 affinity groups and other organizing bodies from across the country. At the conference, St. Paul was divided into seven sectors, and different organizations were assigned responsibility for the direct actions that would occur within those sectors, according to the FBI affidavit. . . .

However, the fact remains that many of the affinity groups were still able to launch direct action and block streets with dumpsters, fly signs from high-rise buildings, deploy dragon sleeve blockades, slash tires, throw bricks and other items from bridges onto cars, throw caltrops and spike strips on streets to flatten tires, shoot at police and convention attendees with slingshots, block delegate buses, assault delegates (physically and with noxious chemical sprays) and generally create large-scale mayhem and vandalism. These direct actions resulted in most of the more than 800 arrests during the RNC. These activities clearly showed that not all the affinity groups had been penetrated or rendered impotent.

The RNCWC was unable to fully implement its three-tiered strategy, but it did have the strength to attempt all three stages. It executed operations intended to block intersections, attack shuttle buses and block bridges. Some of these efforts met with success for a limited period of time, but the RNCWC’s goal of significantly interfering with the RNC was clearly not met. . . .

Read the whole thing.  ..bruce w..

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Category: 2008 Election, Main, Terrorism, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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