Law of the Fist

New York Cops Vow to Crush Violent Protest at World Economic Forum

Operating under the guidelines of the Handschuh agreement, a memorandum of understanding limiting political surveillance, the New York City police have also developed intelligence on potentially violent protesters. Meanwhile, they're taking care to avoid doing anything that might be construed as interfering with the right to free speech for those with no history of lawbreaking. "That is the tightrope we walk, as we should," Timoney says.

It was Timoney who during the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York selected Michael Julian to head the initiative to allow for peaceful protest while preserving order in the city and the rights of the conventioneers. "Mike is the guy we know who cares the most about these rights," he says.

Julian—"a new-age wheel" in police parlance—has since gone on to the executive suite of Madison Square Garden. While he is reluctant to talk now, back then he said, "We have to give these people the place to protest, but we don't have to give them the right to interfere with others, do we?" So he erected "pens" that gave protesters a view of the entrance to the convention but kept them far enough away to allow delegates free entrance and egress.

Ready as he'll ever be: New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly
photo: Jake Price
Ready as he'll ever be: New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

Much the same strategy will be in effect outside the Waldorf. The major difference from the point of view of the intelligence and security services is the presence of as many as 70 international leaders.

"Basically, Secret Service will provide 24-7 protection for each head of state and their accompanying spouse," says Steve Carey, special agent in charge for this region. In addition to the plainclothes members, officers from the heavy-weapons-trained uniformed Secret Service division will also be on hand. Carey's colleague Patricia Kelly, of the State Department Diplomatic Security Service, provides similar security for ministers and other foreign dignitaries. She points out that no matter how good a job the federal agents do, the bulk of the responsibility will fall on Ray Kelly's NYPD.

"Our concern is very high," she says, "but we have a very strong team and the New York City Police are exceptional at what they do."

Now the world will see whether they can walk that line between protection and repression, whether they can hold back anarchists who have prevailed elsewhere, and whether Ray Kelly is prepared enough to keep order in New York without getting his own forces spanked.


Related story:

"A Field Guide to Anti-WEF Protest in New York City" by Ariston-Lizabeth Anderson

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