Roe v Wade overturned: How US cities are bracing for protests
SCOTUS overturned the Roe v Wade judgement on Friday
Police agencies across the country were reportedly watching certain groups as they prepared for possible violent protests
Here is how US cities are preparing to deal with them
Police agencies across the country were reportedly watching certain groups as they prepared for possible violent protests after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was overturned by the US Supreme Court on Friday.
Pro-choice demonstrators planned to converge in Manhattan's Washington Square and Union Square on Friday night, and New York City cops were bracing for a long night with increased patrols.
Workers boarded up windows on a federal facility downtown in Dallas, Texas, and were observed erecting fencing around the property as one social-media group asked demonstrators to "wear a mask and nondescript clothing" and avoid publishing images online.
According to a document released Wednesday by the NYPD's intelligence department outlining their plan if the verdict is overturned, cops in New York were preparing "increased patrols," including at "abortion alternative clinics," to thwart threats by "extremists and malicious actors."
“NYPD Intelligence Bureau personnel have observed threat actors espousing a range of violent ideologies — including single-issue extremism, anti-government/anti-fascist extremism, and racially/ethnically motivated violent extremism,” the memo reads.
“[They are] leverag[ing] social media posts and virtual communication forums to encourage violent and unlawful activity in response to the leaked draft and upcoming ruling.”
According to intelligence experts, pro-abortion extremist organisations are expected to "target abortion alternative clinics and facilities across the US," and Big Apple institutions may be viewed as "ideologically justifiable targets."
“Numerous acts of property destruction across the US necessitates heightened situational awareness for members of the service on protective deployments at related entities in New York City,” states the memo.
The precise places where police are expected to increase patrols have not been divulged, but an NYPD official stated that "there will likely be locations that require special attention."
“We are in constant contact with our Intelligence Bureau and our federal partners and we are monitoring the threat stream for any indicators,” the spokesperson stated.
Capt. Charles Norris, who runs the LA County Sheriff's Department Emergency Operations Bureau, told The Washington Post that his Sheriff's Response Team is prepared.
“We are prepared to respond if necessary. We obviously respect people’s right to peacefully protest, but if it turns into a situation where it’s no longer peaceful, then yes, we would deploy our Sheriff’s Response Team,” Norris claimed.
According to Norris, the unit consists of four platoons of around 100 deputies each who are properly trained in civil disobedience and mass arrest processes.
“So if it turns into a worst-case scenario, we already have a plan in place and we are ready to activate them,” he explained.
Officer Tony Im, an LAPD spokesperson, declined to specify how many cops the department expects to mobilise due to "tactical information," but said the agency's role is to "keep the peace."
“We want people to be able to demonstrate and voice their opinions in a peaceful manner. We are more than prepared,” Im stated.
The Portland Police Bureau's spokesperson, Sgt. Kevin Allen, also stated that it would be "inappropriate to discuss tactical planning publicly," but that his department had "contingency plans in place" if protests get out of hand.
“The city of Portland has hundreds of protests, demonstrations, and gatherings every year, and the vast majority have no police involvement or response,” Allen claimed.
“We have a long history of free speech gatherings and the Portland Police Bureau supports and encourages our community members to exercise their constitutional rights.”
A representative for the San Francisco Police Department advised demonstrators upset by the decision to stay calm.
“We ask that everyone exercising their First Amendment rights be considerate, respectful and mindful of the safety of others,” Allison Maxie, a spokesperson for the organization, told The Washington Post.
Should an emergency develop, Maxie stated that the police department is fully staffed and prepared to handle calls for service throughout the city.
“The SFPD reminds everyone that if you see something, don’t assume someone else has called 9-1-1, please contact us,” she informed.
Police in Dallas, according to spokesperson Melinda Gutierrez, are ready to arrest demonstrators if "any type of criminal offense" is committed against "any person or property." She also stated that demonstrators could expect to be arrested if they try to close roads or "illegally impede traffic."
“The Dallas Police Department will not interfere with a lawful and peaceful assembly of any individuals or groups expressing their First Amendment rights. We will be monitoring events, and those who participate will see our patrols as they always do at large events,” Gutierrez stated.
“Our main priority remains the safety of the people who live, work, and visit the city of Dallas.”
Police forces in Houston, Orlando, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale have stated that additional personnel are available if needed.