Global Policy Forum

Law of the Fist


by Richard Esposito

Village Voice
January 23, 2002

Seen through the eyes of New York cops, the anti-globalization movement looks like one bloody line of terror and mayhem, stretching back to the Seattle riots of 1999 and heading right at them. If the protesters pouring into the city for the World Economic Forum at month's end have plans for creating more scenes of violence and destruction, the NYPD says they can just think again.

"If there are demonstrations, they will certainly be allowed to go forward if they are peaceful. If they are disruptive and they break the law, we will take action," says Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "We are confident. We are prepared." He and the other brass say they know full well how ugly things can get:

Melbourne, 2000 — Armed with cellular phones, grid maps of the city, noxious chemicals, urine, and a plan formulated on the Internet, violent anti-globalization protesters succeeded in halting the opening of the World Economic Forum.

Philadelphia, 2000 — Burned-out police cars, stomped and key-scratched corporate "black cars," and finger-pointing at police became the signs of success for violent anarchists at the Republican National Convention.

Genoa, 2001 — A summit of the G-8 ended with pools of blood inside a school where nonviolent union protesters took refuge from cops and with headlines of "Ragazzo Morto" dramatically mourning a young anarchist slain in a street battle by carabinieri who then ran him over.

Seattle, 1999—"Speechless in Seattle" is a fair summary of just how startled law enforcement officials were by the out-of-control demonstrations there during a World Trade Organization meeting. Powerful water cannons, smashed shop windows, and baton-bashed protesters all left a powerful retinal memory on world consciousness.

Now these same protesters are expected in New York for the economic forum, which runs from January 31 to February 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. Kelly and company expect some 200 jet-setting troublemakers to infiltrate law-abiding activists, with the goal of damaging property, hindering access to the meetings, and garnering media attention for their anti-globalization agenda. They'll be met with a disciplined, experienced, blue-collar division of uniformed police, two battalions of detectives, three more of Secret Service and diplomatic security service operatives, and two more of FBI agents. The goal is to ensure that "Fortress Waldorf" is a safe environment for the 3000 attendees and that New York City is not the subject of any form of further violence. By all accounts, police will have their hands full with the sophisticated techniques of these determined anarchists.

In the post-9-11 world of law enforcement, cops see these brick throwers and car burners as almost Al Qaeda-like, down to their transnational wandering, their leaders' wealthy backgrounds, and their fundamentalist message. The anti-globalization movement objects to the unfettered migration of capital in search of the best deal on labor, and holds the not-unreasonable paranoia of a global corporate oligarchy.

Of course, that same migrating capital—as with arms maker Krupp, explosives king Nobel, and yellow-journalism baron Hearst—is what fuels its yang. By 1996, one of the movement's funding organizations had banked more than $34 million to fuel its agenda, according to Internet versions of a Left Business Observer essay. The publication goes on to report that the founder of this group has an Ivy League M.B.A., a track record at the U.S. Agency for International Development, and money provided by well-heeled parents from the retail trade.

None of this wins the favor of the blue-collar former Philadelphia police commissioner John Timoney. "There is a core group of anti-capitalists who throw noxious substances, toss red liquid at cops, turn over cars, and interfere with the rights of peaceful demonstrators," he says.

Dublin-born and blunt as a spade, Timoney came to New York as a teenager with a blue work shirt and not much else. "I came here to teach you people a lesson," he says, not totally in jest.

When the streets of Philly flared during the 2000 GOP convention, Timoney adopted a much criticized policy of arresting demonstrators by the hundreds, sometimes slapping them with $1 million bail for charges that were later radically reduced or dropped altogether. The strategy led to accusations of jailhouse brutality and suppression of lawful protest, but in the end, the violence was contained, if not quelled.

With a bare trace of brogue and a ruddy complexion, Timoney embodies the flip side of globalization—the migration of labor as it seeks a better life. As CEO of Beau Dietl Associates, a private security firm, the Philly commissioner is back to protect the kings and queens of capital at the Waldorf summit.

"Obviously, these violent anarchists strike at what they think are the symbols of capitalism," says Timoney. "So they scratch black cars and cost the poor drivers a day's pay."

Global anti-globalization protesters, meet globo cops: John Timoney, New York police commissioner Ray Kelly, Kroll bioterror expert Jerome Hauer, Madison Square Garden GM Michael Julian, Secret Service special-agent-in-charge Steve Carey, Diplomatic Security Service regional boss Patricia Kelly, Waldorf security chief Sal Caccavale. These are just a few of the resources New York has drawn upon.

Timoney was bloodied in Philadelphia; Hauer was side by side with the cops in Melbourne; Ray Kelly, well, Ray Kelly led the marine contingent in Haiti, ran U.S. Customs, and has returned for a second tour of duty as New York's police commissioner. They embody the blue-collared, multi-ethnic centurions who will keep order at the Waldorf when the conference begins.

Last Thursday, in the parking lot of Shea Stadium, many of those cops were on hand for a media show-and-tell of the NYPD's tactical-response ability. "Operation Decorum at the Forum," it was dubbed on the covers of briefing books held by senior police officials. The drills featured blue and white helicopters jug-jugging smoothly to landings on the edge of mock demonstrations. Squads of chestnut horses guided by the yellow-striped navy leggings of their mounted unit riders took up position to block more protesters from joining. Wedges of blue behind riot helmets poked their nightsticks forward, shouting "Move, move" in unison with each half-step.

This is not CHiPS, buddy—this is New York. Our centurions don't inspire fear, resembling in their bunched and belted tunics a Busby Berkeley version of a Fats nightmare on the eve of a big eight-ball tournament. But they do mean business.

As a point of pride, the officers and agents the Voice spoke to make clear they are in no mood for any blots on New York, not with the city still finding its legs after September 11. They also make clear that if these raging hordes want to do something for labor, they might consider protesting in favor of a pay raise for New York's finest. Four months after crawling out of the World Trade Center, cops here still make about 22 percent less than their counterparts who patrol leafy Long Island villages such as Locust Valley, where crime is generally limited to speeding and unleashed dogs.

There were a few details jarringly wrong about the protesters, played by young cadets out of the New York City Police Academy who chanted "No justice, no peace" as they linked arms in locked boxes and sat down demanding to be arrested. Most were nonwhite. Most were not yet college graduates. They looked more likely to have a parent who was a partner in a bodega or a newsstand than an accounting firm.

"No justice, no peace, no justice, no peace," they chanted as cops practiced the art of freeing arms locked by carabiners from the finest outdoor-supply stores. On hand were Emergency Service Squad vans and imposing chromed trucks filled with riot shields and helmets, nonlethal Tasers, very lethal Colt M-4's, Beretta 9mm's, and scoped Ruger varmint guns.

Behind the trucks and vans and horses and helicopters sat other vans marked "Communications," "Temporary Headquarters," "Queens North Task Force," "Queens South Task Force." These communications and tactical command posts bristled with a forest of aerials. Inside, ranking chiefs and inspectors could monitor the flow of moving demonstrations and cope with ruses put on by protesters to lure cops away from targets and then rush unprotected doors. Wary of brutality by their own, the commanders could monitor video footage shot by the Tactical Assistance and Response Unit.

The demonstration capped two weeks of twice-a-day preparation drills. In addition to the overwhelming uniformed presence on the streets, the Eighth Floor Operational command at One Police Plaza will be at full tilt, as will the FBI command center at 26 Federal Plaza. The Office of Emergency Management's HQ will be on alert for bioterrorism. Around the Waldorf, a frozen zone of roughly five blocks will inconvenience New Yorkers, but will further protect the stately hotel.

"It will be Fortress Waldorf," says Timoney. He notes the protesters are skilled at posing as delegates, hotel workers, and maintenance workers—whatever it takes to infiltrate, agitate, and disrupt. They face a police force and its federal backfield that have weathered Crown Heights, a million-plus millennium celebration, a World Series in the midst of an anthrax scare, a terror-threatened New Year's Eve, and 600-plus demonstrations a year that are shrugged off as almost routine.

"You could say we practice every day," says Police Commissioner Kelly. "We are disciplined. Confident. The World Economic Forum will go smoothly. We do not anticipate any trouble." But if it comes, Kelly's troops are ready.

"Before we even planned this meeting we asked then mayor Giuliani and his police commissioner if the city could handle it. 'Yes, we can handle it,' they told us," says Charles McLean, spokesman for the forum, which moved to New York to lend economic support to the staggered city.

According to law enforcement sources, more than 600 detectives will be assigned to diplomatic protection, while hundreds of others will work with FBI and other federal colleagues in monitoring intelligence reports that might indicate terrorists are seeking to capitalize on any chaos. So far, there are no reports of that kind, federal and city law enforcement officials say.

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.

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.

More Information on NGOs
More Information on Protests

FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.