The Year in Fear | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
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The Year in Fear 

As you spent the past year going to school or work, watching the Pirates lose and making love to your significant other, you probably gave little thought to the dangers that beset us from all sides. Lucky for you, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response was not so complacent. For 10 months, the Philly-based group furnished reports about potential terror attacks and other threats, all at the request of state Homeland Security officials.

Here is just a small sample of potential threats the group warned state officials of in the past year. 

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Nov. 19–Dec. 25
The Institute warns that during this window, cable channel Planet Green will air Coal County, a documentary skeptical of coal mining. The ITRR warns that the film is "a potential catalyst for inspiring 'direct action' protests or even sabotage against facilities, machinery, and/or corporate headquarters."

Nov. 22
Tea Party organizers will demonstrate to "End the Fed" in Philadelphia today, ITRR notes. While the demonstrators themselves should be law-abiding, ITRR warns that "white nationalists" might show up: "[T]he possibility of violence exists should white nationalists find themselves in proximity with non-white demonstrators marching under the same Tea-Party banner." 

Jan. 30
The Pittsburgh Organizing Group is said to be planning a protest against the closing of UPMC Braddock hospital. ITRR warns that vandalism is possible at UPMC or University of Pittsburgh facilities -- and not just in Pittsburgh. "Depending on the efforts by activists abroad to publicize the event," it adds, "protest actions may also be seen at UPMC facilities in Italy, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Qatar and Cyprus." 

Feb. 1-28
It's Black History Month, and the ITRR helpfully reminds you that "there is a potential for protests or more violent reactions from white supremacist groups during this period."

Feb. 26
The Institute issues a warning that "Al-Qaeda is again targeting Turkish Muslim youth for recruitment," a special concern in Germany's large Turkish population. This purported attempt to lure young Turks in Germany could mean trouble for Pittsburgh: "ITRR analysts recommend an increased situational awareness [around] German and Turkish assets globally ... In Pennsylvania, this includes the law offices of ... the Honorary German Consul, on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh."

March 19
ITRR warns that "Green Drinks" -- a monthly cocktail event for environmentalists, held tonight at Mitchell's Restaurant -- might be targeted by "aggressive environmental activists taking illegal or disruptive actions." Apparently, "activist communications" expressed a desire for "the real environmental movement [to] show up to Green Drinks," and grouse about guest speaker Dan Onorato's environmental record. Besides, ITRR warns, these radicals have an extra motive: "the inspiration offered recently" by other extremists -- including a protest in France which "succeeded in blocking a train with radioactive waste." 

March 31
A bulletin warns that antiwar group CODEPINK may protest Nordstrom Department stores because they sell wares made in Israel. CODEPINK could, for example, "attempt to purchase [items] and then 'suddenly realize' that the products are made in occupied Palestine and refuse to buy."  The ITRR warns that pro-Israel groups may counter-protest, which could result in confrontations -- "some violent in nature." Police "should maintain awareness of potential flashpoints," ITRR advises -- including "at Pittsburgh's Ross Park Mall." 

May 5
In today's bulletin, the ITRR warns that a new Arizona anti-immigration law may spark "militant opponents" to protest at Arizona Diamondbacks baseball games. The team visits Pittsburgh in September, it notes, advising that security personnel "must maintain awareness ... with an emphasis on crowd control and containment of militant agitation." 

June 8
Scheduled for today is a "Taxpayers' Protest in Harrisburg," in which protesters are encouraged to "go to your state representative or senate's office and sit in their chairs and on their floor."  Sounds harmless? The ITRR notes that "the tone" of these messages is "aggressive and strident" -- "Prepare to stay the full working day to show ... your public servant they WORK FOR You" -- and assigns it a "moderate" risk for an "attack or action."

July 7
In a bulletin, ITRR warns of violence depending on the verdict in a trial of an Oakland, Calif., police officer accused of shooting a defenseless black youth. Violence is possible not just in Oakland and other California cities, it claims, but "potentially [in] other cities nationwide with significant radical African-American activism or anarchist groups." Later, the ITRR names Philadelphia and Pittsburgh as examples.

Aug. 20
ITRR warns that an anti-abortion group, Life Decisions International, has issued a "boycott" list of corporations and nonprofits that allegedly support Planned Parenthood. The list includes everything from the Olive Garden and Mrs. Fields cookies to the Girl Scouts and the YMCA. "While the boycott is a legal and non-violent method of protest," ITRR observes, "the list ... can serve as a targeting tool for more militant anti-abortion elements."

Aug. 26
ITRR notes that "Up Against the Law," a Philadelphia group dedicated to monitoring the police, has its first public meeting tonight. The discussion, titled "The Streets Are Watching," concerns how to conduct "copwatch patrols" and other techniques for keeping an eye on police. ITRR pledges to monitor the anarchists' efforts to monitor the police.

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