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"Its ludicrous. It's the kind of stuff that gets published in Soldier of Fortune magazine," says Eric Laursen, of the A31 Coalition. "What's really going on is the police are trying to create a cover for decisions they make during the protest, like justifying preemptive arrests against 'violent' activists or confining people blocks away from the convention."
Police Inspector Michael Coan denied any willful fear mongering and maintained the police warnings were based on "past history of protests in New York and other cities, and people we know who are coming here and have a history of multiple arrests," as well as information culled from "open sources" including protest websites, discussion boards, and leaflets.
"If something is open source info that's out there, we should at least be aware of it and be able to prevent it," added Coan.
Coan declined to comment on how or why the NYPD had singled out the reported "50 leading anarchists" for scrutiny, and insisted that police officers were not "infiltrating" activist groups, as news articles have claimed. But he added: If people are meeting in an open, public place where anyone can attend, weve done that."
Whatever the source of these overblown threats and warnings, the effect may be to instill in peaceful protesters a fear of turning out for demonstrations, and in cops an animosity toward demonstratorsmaking confrontations on the street all the more inevitable.