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Did The Daily News Lie About The "Anarchist Threat"?

In its cover story from July 11, 2004, The Daily News declared, "Internet-using anarchists are telling would-be troublemakers to decoy specially trained Labrador retrievers with gunpowder or ammonium nitrate-laced tablets in a bid to halt trains or even spur the evacuation of Madison Square Garden."

The article reverberated on right wing blogs and cable news shows, with each one referring back to The Daily News article. But the Internet posting referred to in the article cannot be found. Not by us nor by any of the other bloggerswho have searched for it.

This raises some questions. Does it exist? Was it fabricated? The author of the article, Patrice O'Shaughnessy, does not provide its source. Did she find it herself, or did she get it from the only person actually named in the article, Police Chief Ray Kelly?

If, like us, you're really curious to know the answer to these questions, you can try calling Ms. O'Shaughnessy at 212-210-2234, x6.

If any RNCwatch reader knows of its source, please contact us. We are ready to acknowledge the existence of the alleged internet post, but we will respect your confidentiality.

As RNCwatch has documented, this article is part of a familiar pattern of pre-protest fearmongering that has plagued major media outlets over the past four years. In each case, the outlets correct themselves only after the protests.

Notably, O'Shaughnessy herself was responsible for a very similar article in advance of the World Economic Forum protests in January, 2002, titled "City On Alert For Days Of Rage."

The recent article, where O'Shaughnessy declares, "Fringe elements are hoping to spark major disruptions at the Republican National Convention with a series of sneaky tricks," echoes the article from January 27, 2002, in which she wrote,

"When thousands rally in New York this week against the World Economic Forum, socially conscious activists will be among them - as well as, police say, hardened radicals and advocates of violent confrontation. [...] Militant groups planning direct action may lock arms to form a blockade, chain themselves together, soil themselves and damage property, police said."

The complete article is included below. At least in that one, the author quotes sources in addition to the NYPD. But the slant remains the same: overworked police forced to deal with "bad protesters" mixed in among "good protesters." This is another familiar failing of media coverage of the buildup to large protests.

Will New York City's media once again align itself with the Mayor and Police Chief ahead of a major protest by engaging in fearmongering and shoddy reporting? Or will it examine police claims and tactics more carefully, as they usually do only after the protests are over? RNCwatch notes that the city's other major newspapers did not pick up on The Daily News's July 11 "exclusive."

Copyright 2002 Daily News, L.P.  
Daily News (New York)
January 27, 2002, Sunday SPORTS FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 8

LENGTH: 1657 words

HEADLINE: CITY ON ALERT FOR DAYS OF RAGE   Radicals to rally vs. World
Economic Forum

BYLINE: BY PATRICE O'SHAUGHNESSY DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

BODY:
When thousands rally in New York this week against the World Economic Forum,
socially conscious activists will be among them - as well as, police say,
hardened radicals and advocates of violent confrontation.  

With labor unionists, students, environmentalists, civil rights activists
and all manner of self-proclaimed anarchists meeting in midtown, police are
preparing for street dramas that may range from puppetry and tango-dancing
to vandalism and service disruptions.

"Many, many thousands, perhaps even more than that, are coming from
practically every state," said Larry Holmes, a spokesman for ANSWER, which
stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism.

"I think the protest is going to be good for the city; it will be energetic,
safe, peaceful. ... People will have the opportunity to revive the worldwide
movement for social and economic justice. And we're following the advice of
all those who say to get back to normal - what's more normal for New York
than to have a protest?"

But police are concerned the peaceful demonstrators will be overrun.

"Some well-meaning student will get caught in the middle if a violent
protester starts breaking windows and the cops move in to arrest him," said
one police official.

Police have been gathering intelligence on potentially violent groups and
assigning each a threat level.

They are groups that have clashed with police at other economic summits,
including the World Trade Organization in Seattle in 1999 and the Group of
Eight Summit in Genoa, Italy, in July, in which a protester was killed by
police.

One demonstration tactic labeled a serious threat, known as the "Black
Bloc," is in vogue with anarchist groups. Demonstrators wear black clothing
and bandannas over their faces, and wield pipes, bottles and Molotov
cocktails.

Black Bloc proponents boast on Web sites of causing disruptions at various
corporate headquarters. Two weeks ago in York, Pa., anti-racists using Black
Bloc techniques fought neo-Nazis in the streets during an appearance by
Matthew Hale, leader of the white-supremacist World Church of the Creator.

While more mainstream activists were painting banners and organizing
transportation and housing for participants in anti-World Economic Forum
protests, police have spotted other protesters surveying the site of the
conference, scoping out the entrances and taking photographs, sources said.

Militant groups planning direct action may lock arms to form a blockade,
chain themselves together, soil themselves and damage property, police said.

Police might enforce an 1845 law that prohibits people from wearing masks in
street gatherings, except for masquerades, to counter large gatherings of
Black Bloc advocates, sources said.

The World Economic Forum, an organization of business moguls, academic
experts and political, media and science leaders, agreed to hold its summit
here in a show of support for the city after the Sept. 11 attacks, and to
pour money into the economy via restaurants, shops and entertainment.

Already benefitting from the conference are private security firms, whose
advice and bodyguards forum participants have sought for navigating the
city.

At its usual summit location - Davos, in the Swiss Alps - participants were
shielded from the angry slogans of globalization foes.

But starting Thursday and continuing until the summit ends the following
Monday, anti-globalists from around the country and Europe are expected to
converge near the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, the posh, old-money base for the
1,800 forum delegates and their staff and about 20 heads of state as they
discuss "A Vision for a Shared Future," with international security part of
the discourse.

The protesters see the forum as a capitalist display of excess at a time
when the events of Sept. 11 have led to war and economic woes.

And they are mindful that New Yorkers are still fragile.

"We know what the atmosphere is since Sept. 11," said Eric Laursen, a member
of Another World Is Possible, a New-York based umbrella organization of
anti-war, anti-corporate globalization student groups.

"Our thrust is positive - to have street theater and music in an effort to
show people what a better world it could be."

Holmes added: "Nothing is going to happen to upset the people. ... No one's
coming here to do damage to persons or property."

But the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, whose motto is "Make Resistance
Visible," is using the city's firefighters' scuffle with police in November
to suggest that it's time for the return of direct action in New York.

Anti-Capitalist Convergence flyers against the World Economic Forum show
angry men in fire helmets and turnout coats.

"They're misrepresenting what we did that day," said Peter Gorman, president
of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, whose members clashed with cops
when the fire officers tried to hold a rally at Ground Zero to protest the
city's cutback of recovery workers.

"They're trying to say we proved civil disobedience works. ... It bothers
me, because our issue was about dignity for human remains. It was not about
being against the police."

In the NYPD - already exhausted from the twin towers tragedy, the crash of
Flight 587 in the Rockaways, anthrax scares and maintaining the highest
level of alert for possible terror acts - there are varying opinions on what
may happen during the forum meeting.

"Some people think it could be a rough couple of days," said one official.

It could be a major public relations issue for Mayor Bloomberg, himself a
forum delegate, and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who has made the
conference a priority until Feb. 5.

The event also is the new administration's first test of maintaining order.

So police have been preparing.

About 3,500 cops have been assigned to the forum, including rooftop snipers,
plainclothes cops and officers from aviation, mounted, canine, bomb squad
and emergency service units.

There will be cops at the city airports to make sure there are no
disruptions, and extra vigilance on the subways.

The jail system is preparing to process hundreds of arrests. High-ranking
cops were sent to Seattle, Genoa and other cities where large-scale
demonstrations turned violent. A major drill was conducted at Shea Stadium,
and smaller drills have been conducted several times a week.

"There is a concern that the area of demonstrations may spread from midtown
Manhattan," said Kelly, "so we are taking a lot of precaution, doing a lot
of planning."

The protesters are getting ready, too.

Workshops are being held on the legal rights of demonstrators, and street
medic treatment for tear gas and pepper spray. The Anti-Capitalist
Convergence was offering role-playing where participants play cops,
protesters and medics.

"Police are preparing as if the Mongol hordes are coming," said Laursen. "In
Seattle and Genoa, by far, the overwhelming amount of violence was done by
the police. There was brutality, not against the so-called Black Bloc
[demonstrators] but against peaceful protesters doing Ghandian methods."

Holmes said, "If the police are not heavy-handed, and do not provoke, we
have no doubt these events will come off very successfully."

Many groups have been working with the police over the last few weeks,
negotiating for their own forums.

John Sweeney, AFL-CIO president, will attend the forum.

"We are not there to protest, but to rally to present the working person's
side," said Ferranti.

But police will have to scramble when delegates visit the New York Stock
Exchange or Ground Zero.

Kelly said forum attendees will be accommodated "to a reasonable degree."

"It's a good event for the city," he said. "The city administration is happy
they're here. It puts some pressures and strains on the Police Department,
but that's why we exist."

Said Holmes,"The players on both sides have a lot of experience - they know
how to do it."

Some groups listed as opposed to the World Economic Forum

American Muslims for Peace & Justice

Anti-Imperialist League

American Socialist Foundation

Animal Defense League (Long Island)

Anti-Capitalist Convergence (Philippines)

Anti-WEF Coordination Salzburg (Austria)

Bhopal Group for Information and Action

Block by Block (Harlem)

California Prison Focus

Campaign for Labor Rights

Center for the Comparative Study of Law and Society

Climate Action NOW! (Redway, Calif.)

Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (N.Y.C.)

College Voice for Free Tuition and Open Admissions

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador

Critical Resistance East

Cuba Advocate Newsletter

Cuve Collective (Belgium)

Democratic Palestine

Filipino Workers' Center

First Quarter Storm Movement (Northern California)

Food Not Bombs (Hoboken, N.J.)

Free CUNY

Global Pastry Uprising  

Green Party U.S.A.  

Industrial Workers of the World (N.Y.C.)

International Socialist Organization

Jews Against the Occupation

JUSO Switzerland  

Kensington Welfare Rights Union  

Les Ami de la WEF (Switzerland)  

Make the Road by Walking (Brooklyn)    

Mexico Solidarity Network

Middle East Children's Alliance

National Lawyers Guild

Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala

Nicaragua Network

Pagan Cluster

Pastors for Peace

Phun Phactory

Rainforest Relief

Raise the Fist

Reclaim the Streets

Refuse and Resist

Roundhouse Collective (Baltimore)

School of the Americas Watch

Socialist Party of New York City

Solidarity

Student Committee Against Labor Exploitation

Students for Global Justice (New York)

Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement

TransgenderWarrior.org

Union of New York Free Youth

Veterans for Peace

Women's Action for New Directions

Workers Democracy Network

Zapatista Block Collective

Sources: Internationalanswer.org and Anotherworldpossible.com, two Web sites
organizing protests against the World Economic Forum

Graphic: WALDORF - ASTORIA FROZEN ZONE

GRAPHIC: AP Demonstrator is arrested during World Trade Organization protest
in Seattle in December 1999. Protester smashes windshield during Summit of
the Americas riot in Quebec City, Canada, in April.DENNIS CLARK   Fellow cop
plays the role of a protester as two of the Finest carry him away in
mobilization exercise at Shea Stadium recently.AP Worker for Another World
is Possible helps prepare protest gear.

July 19, 2004 | Permalink

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