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FLASH ALERT: HIGH RISK OF SOCIAL UNREST DURING SHUTDOWN DC DEMONSTRATION

FLASH ALERT: HIGH RISK OF SOCIAL UNREST DURING SHUTDOWN DC DEMONSTRATION


Christie Hui, Brianna Corrie, Chloe Bissett, Max M, Paula Ruiz Crespo, CTSC Team; Megan Proudfoot, W/T Team; Jesse Robert, OSINT Team

Hannah Norton, Justin Maurina, Editor

Thursday, June 9, 2022



Fencing around the US Supreme Court[1]



The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) is issuing a FLASH ALERT for the Protective Intelligence Unit of the US Supreme Court Police, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), DC Metro Transit Police, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), US Marshals Service and DC residents for a First Amendment demonstration to shut down the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The SHUTDOWN DC demonstration will begin in Stanton Park in Washington DC on Monday, June 13 at 0700 local time and end at SCOTUS, where they will form a blockade. Some demonstrators will likely target the Supreme Court Justices who favor overturning the decision that protects abortion rights, Roe v. Wade, such as Justice Brett Kavanaugh. CTG urges US government officials, law enforcement, and security personnel to be vigilant following the recent arrest of an armed man making death threats to Justice Kavanaugh near his home.


CTG is on HIGH alert due to the HIGH likelihood of predicted consequences of the SHUTDOWN DC demonstration on Monday, June 13. The group anticipates “escalated” law enforcement action and arrests among its participants, which will LIKELY result in harm to law enforcement officers and demonstrators. Counter-protest groups will ALMOST CERTAINLY attend the event, which will VERY LIKELY increase tensions and incite violence.


On Tuesday, June 7, a group called “SHUTDOWN DC” hosted a meeting in which they discussed plans to shut down SCOTUS on Monday, June 13. The group’s primary goal is to block off the SCOTUS block and prevent access to the building as a way to protest the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade. The aims of this blockade are likely to simultaneously influence any future decisions the Justices make regarding the possible overturn of Roe v. Wade and delay any further decisions. Streets directly affected by the blockade include 2nd St NE, East Capitol St NE, 1st St NE, Maryland Ave NE, and Constitution Ave NE. Other streets in the immediate and surrounding area will almost certainly experience increased disruption. On Sunday, June 12 at 0930 local time, the group will host a 2.5-hour training session at the Petworth United Methodist Church in Washington DC to practice working together, introduce de-escalation skills, and teach participants’ rights while protesting in DC. According to the meeting, the group has two people who specialize in creating effective blockades.


SHUTDOWN DC is highly coordinated with affinity groups and a representative structure. Each group will disperse, take positions, and conduct different types of disruptive demonstrations along with picketing and barricading streets. The event leaders have previous experience organizing and coordinating large groups of activists with publicized aims that will likely attract widespread media attention.[2]


The preparations the organizers are taking very likely signify that they expect resistance from law enforcement. Strategizing for planned resistance from law enforcement and counter-protestors suggests a level of sophistication and anticipation that likely comes from at least one of the organizers having previous experience organizing and attending large-scale protests. Since the Roe v. Wade document leaked, there have been increased protests and gatherings outside SCOTUS, almost certainly increasing the number of law enforcement officers on patrol. In the meeting, SHUTDOWN DC indicated protocol for obtaining legal representation and bail accommodations in case of arrest. A legal officer was present for the meeting and will provide another briefing before the event “in person,” which very likely demonstrates the group taking precautionary steps to avoid and minimize legal repercussions after the protest.


CTG assesses that the current threat climate is HIGH because of the sensitive nature of the longstanding debate on the legality of abortion in the US. The controversy the possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade has generated will likely keep escalating given the strong religious and cultural implications tied to the abortion debate in the US. The high social and political tensions surrounding this issue will likely cause further violence during the protest.


The presence of counter-protesters will very likely increase violence between all sides, especially if the demonstration is unsuccessful in its aims. The safety of US Justices and other government officials, law enforcement personnel, and demonstration participants are very likely at risk with SHUTDOWN DC anticipating escalation. A heightened level of tensions between protestors and law enforcement, as well as between protestors and counter-protestors, will likely result in outbreaks of violence. Rising tensions surrounding the possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade and the outcomes of this demonstration will likely encourage organizers to hold similar protests at state supreme courts across the US, regardless of the level of the event’s attendance or success.


Analysis indicates there is a HIGH PROBABILITY that the demonstration will become violent through resistance, thereby jeopardizing the safety of participants, law enforcement officers, and US Justices. One affinity group in the organization is identified as “SCOTUS 6,” a group of people “who have been organizing protests at conservative justice’s homes.” This affinity group is likely to have the highest threat as it is more likely to enter the SCOTUS building. The group has discussed using aliases on social media to pre-emptively conceal their identities.


Members of the group will almost certainly remain at the location even after a dispersal order or curfew is enacted. Group members have already established protocols to handle arrests and subsequent legal needs. CTG recommends that relevant law enforcement agencies plan for a mass-arrest scenario. Additional prisoner transport assets should be deployed in the target site’s vicinity to ensure that detained individuals are quickly removed from the action site.


There was specific mention of members who specialize in creating effective blockades. CTG analysis indicates that demonstrators will likely use lock-on tactics, including “sleeping dragon” devices that use PVC pipes and handcuffs to chain protesters together to hamper law enforcement efforts to clear the roads. Responding agencies should be prepared to face difficult extrication challenges and use a dedicated apparatus removal team, including Fire and EMS support. Demonstrators will also very likely utilize heavy objects like dumpsters, trash cans, and freestanding barricades to reinforce their blockade lines. CTG recommends that city services and surrounding businesses prepare for this action by securing their dumpsters and outdoor furniture.


The group is very likely attempting to employ disruptive tactics to prevent SCOTUS from operating as usual. Since group members anticipate arrests among participants, their goal is likely to disrupt but not to injure, harm, or destroy. Immediate violence is unlikely, but responding agencies should prepare for resistance and refrain from using traditional crowd control tactics, such as tear gas and rubber bullets, if possible. These tactics will likely form a sense of solidarity among the crowd, provide a sense of defiance, and escalate tensions. If the situation escalates to the use of tear gas and rubber bullets, additional protests will very likely occur, and the possibility of violence will increase.


CTG recommends law enforcement agencies and security personnel maintain a high level of vigilance and monitor social media channels. Law enforcement agencies will likely obtain actionable intelligence from social media posts, as protestors will likely post images revealing their location. Increased monitoring of social media channels would likely allow law enforcement to tactically structure their resources to where they are most needed. The tactical allocation of resources would very likely increase the efficiency with which groups of protestors are controlled, and would enable a faster process of detaining any protestors engaging in illegal activity or violent behavior. CTG also recommends that the use of force be used as a last resort to prevent the escalation of the situation into further protests and potential violence. The protests due to take place on June 13th are legitimate; however, there is a high likelihood of them being infiltrated by violent actors and an increased risk of counter-protests due to the high volatility of the topic. Law enforcement would almost certainly benefit from preparation for this event; however, disproportionate action against protestors will likely lead to further violence. ________________________________________________________________________

[1]Fencing up at the Supreme Court” by Victoria Pickering licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0

[2] Solidarity Brigade Organizer: Phil Ateto, Backbone Campaign, No Date, https://www.backbonecampaign.org/phil_ateto

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