The “Occupy DC” protest group is planning to disrupt the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference using a range of potentially illegal tactics that could even include violence against participants, Scribe has learned.
The planned disruptions at CPAC come only days after U.S. Park Police raided Occupiers’ tent cities at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., confiscating a number of tents, and prohibiting Occupiers from camping out there any longer.
During a Thursday meeting at McPherson Square, until Saturday the epicenter of the protests, Occupiers brainstormed tactics for shutting down or disrupting the conference, according to a source who was present at the meeting.
The protesters suggested pulling fire alarms in the hotel where the conference will take place, screaming “fire” during conference activities, “glitter-bombing” participants, cutting electrical power, and barricading entrances to the hotel, according to the source, who requested anonymity.
“Speakers will be physically assaulted, not just verbally confronted,” the source told Scribe in an email. Two Occupiers, who the source also identified as members of the New Black Panther Party, “said they would be disappointed if they didn’t get arrested and planned to ‘make it count.’”
The source quoted another protester as saying, “Mitt [Romney] has Secret Service now, but [Newt] Gingrich and [Andrew] Breitbart don’t,” seemingly suggesting that the latter two would not be as heavily guarded.
Protesters planned to conduct most of these activities on Saturday, the last day of the conference, so as not to overlap with the recently announced protests by labor groups on Thursday and Friday.
CPAC is the largest annual gathering of conservatives. Guests this year will include three of the four Republican candidates for president, members of Congress, governors, and a host of the country’s most prominent conservative activists and commentators. The Heritage Foundation is a CPAC sponsor.
Occupy DC’s initial follow-up planning session for CPAC fell off the radar after the tent city at McPherson was dismantled on Saturday, but the group agreed on Monday to move ahead with its CPAC “action plan.”
Protesters had been living in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza since October, in violation of federal statutes prohibiting camping on federal land. The National Park Service agreed to enforce the law after congressional investigators began looking into the matter.
Both the American Conservative Union, which hosts the annual conference, and the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, where it takes place, said they had increased their security measures and were confident that any threat from protesters would be adequately addressed.
But concerns remain. Occupiers reportedly discussed a number of tactics for getting protesters into the conference, where they would be able to do more damage than a street protest could muster.
An attendee of the Thursday meeting, who claimed to handle relations with labor organizations, said the AFL-CIO had booked rooms for Occupiers at the Marriott hotel, with the intention of allowing them to bypass security measures at the door. Contacted by Scribe, an AFL-CIO spokesman insisted the Occupiers’ claims were untrue. The AFL-CIO has aided Occupy DC before, most recently in storing Occupiers’ belongings at its headquarters in advance of the National Park Service’s enforcement actions.
But Occupiers are apparently planning other means of infiltration. Representatives from the American University and George Washington University “Occupy” groups said they intended to actually register their members for CPAC. Student passes are heavily discounted, and allow full access to the conference.
They also said they would produce counterfeit credentials and hand them out to non-students who still wished to enter the protest.
“In order to avoid having to shower and dress in business attire to blend in,” Scribe’s source said, “they plan to wear Ron Paul 2012 gear because they believe Paul supporters ‘generally look like hippies.’”