As the Police Department put on a show of its readiness for the many protests during the Republican National Convention, the group organizing the largest protest prepared its case for rallying in Central Park.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said he remained non-plussed by the uncertainty surrounding the planned protest by United for Peace and Justice on the eve of the convention and reiterated his department's readiness.
"We're prepared," Kelly said. "Our officers have been trained to respond in a disciplined and effective way. The coverage will be more than adequate."
Organizers for United for Peace and Justice won a small victory in their goal to secure Central Park's Great Lawn for the site of its anti-war, anti-Bush rally that is expected to draw 250,000 people Aug. 29. A State Supreme Court judge Wednesday night denied the city's request to dismiss a case that would force the city to allow protesters to assemble in the park and scheduled a hearing for Tuesday morning.
New York Civil Liberties Union lawyers for the anti-war group filed a lawsuit in a bid to open Central Park to the political rally.
Standing in front of a backdrop of black steel-plated bullet-proof armed personnel carriers and high-tech helicopters, Kelly said he did not expect protesters, where ever they end up, to cause a problem.
"We expect the vast majority of protesters coming to New York during the convention to be peaceful and law abiding," he said. "Those who break the law will be subject to arrest. But again we expect they will constitute a distinct minority."
Nevertheless, the department's display left no doubt police are preparing for a number of possible scenarios.
Kelly talked about an array of devices, including some to defend against bomb attacks, that together would create, "a comprehensive security net over Madison Square Garden for and during the course of the convention."
Cadets posing as protesters, replete with "No Justice No Peace" signs like those carried by United for Peace and Justice, made good test subjects to show the department's strategies for handling different situations.
In one scenario, cadets pretended to lock their arms in sections of pipe to block a street, a popular tactic used in past protests. Police responded by sending in emergency service officers with saws called "Wizards" to cut the pipe. Arrest teams of eight officers then came in and made the "arrests."
In another scenario, cadets attacked a city bus carrying delegates, banging on its side and sitting in front of it so it could not pass. Again officers in riot gear swooped in and easily carried the stand-in mischief makers away.
The man responsible for the training, Deputy Inspector Thomas Graham of the Disorder Control Unit, a unit he described as an oxymoron, said he has prepared more than 4,000 officers for the convention.
"There's nothing we can't train for," he said.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times