If you drive into the quiet Woodley Park section of Washington, D.C. today, you will find an area lined with elegant residential homes and embassies. Then you will come across a disconcerting scene. At one end of a street there is a large contingent of uniformed police. The street is blocked off with crime tape. Anchoring the area is a large Special Operations Division mobile command center that hums with activity. Marked and unmarked cars prowl the neighborhood.
The large police deployment is not there to thwart a possible terrorist attack. Instead the elaborate precautions now underway are for a possible violent demonstration by Occupy DC protesters who vow to hold an unruly protest outside the annual meeting of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The protesters say they want to “liberate discourse” at CPAC. No one quite knows what that means, but the police are taking no chances.
Today upwards of 50 uniformed and plainclothes police are deployed two blocks from the Marriott Wardman Hotel, the location of CPAC. A half-dozen marked police cars are parked around the command center. A police department official confirms to The Daily Caller the number of police will double on Friday, February 10, when Occupy DC protesters are expected to launch their protest.
In These Times, a left-wing publication, has hailed the upcoming Occupy demonstration against CPAC. Its lead article has the worrisome headline “UPRISING.”
Hinting at the justification for the possible use of violence against conservatives, In These Times quotes Matthew Albright, a college newspaper writer from Louisiana State University. He apparently once described a previous CPAC gathering as a “riotous and self-congratulatory anger festival.” Does this give a green light to Occupiers to riot?
Fueling this same narrative is Chris Garlock, the AFL-CIO chief organizer for tomorrow’s confrontation. He told The Washington Examiner he expects the Occupiers to “lead the charge” against the CPAC attendees.
Interestingly, Occupy DC activists have decided to target the CPAC conference the same week they were evicted from their own site at McPherson Square by the U.S. Park Police. The Occupy DC site at McPherson Square was the scene of several incidents of violence. It was also infested with rats and garbage.
Two weeks ago, Occupy DC protesters threw “glitter bombs” at attendees to the Alfalfa Club dinner. The dinner attracts the nation’s journalists and politicians, including President Obama. The Occupiers were loud, unruly and threatening.
In the history of CPAC conferences, there has never been any problem of violence. Lt. Robert Glover, a police spokesman in charge of the Woodley Park police operation, confirms this is the first time the Metropolitan Police Department has ever sent its mobile operations center to protect the conferees. The meeting attracts more than 10,000 activists each year to hear national conservative speakers and attend workshops.
CPAC is sponsored by the American Conservative Union and TeaParty.net. TeaParty.net people can be found at the entrance to the meeting with a sign, a video camera and literature. The event is staffed with well-dressed, clean-cut young people. Nothing too threatening there.
The national media has given a nice pass to the Occupy movement, rarely writing about its methods of intimidation, threats and anger. Perhaps the media will contrast the civil discourse inside the conference with the uncivil behavior outside the conference. But don’t count on it.
Richard Pollock is a Washington columnist and the former Washington bureau chief of PJTV.