Post Nice ram­page: Dump trucks pro­tect to­mor­row’s New York Thanks­giv­ing pa­rade

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Fans of New York’s tra­di­tional Macy’s Thanks­giv­ing Day Pa­rade who come to see the soar­ing SpongeBob and Snoopy bal­loons may get a far less heart-warm­ing sight this year: gi­ant dump trucks filled with sand to­mor­row.

More than 80 city san­i­ta­tion trucks will be used at in­ter­sec­tions and other strate­gic spots along the 2 ½ mile pa­rade route to cre­ate an im­pos­ing phys­i­cal bar­rier to ter­ror. The trucks weigh about 16 tons empty and up to twice that with sand.

“You can ram a New York City San­i­ta­tion De­part­ment sand truck with a lot of things, but you’re not go­ing to move it,” said John Miller, the New York Po­lice De­part­ment’s top coun­tert­er­ror­ism of­fi­cial.

While the trucks have been used like this be­fore — most re­cently to pro­tect Trump Tower — the New York Po­lice De­part­ment says they will play a big­ger role at this year’s pa­rade in the wake of the cargo truck at­tack in Nice, France, that killed more than 80 peo­ple and a re­cent post­ing in an English-lan­guage Is­lamic State mag­a­zine that called the pa­rade “an ex­cel­lent tar­get.”

As scary as that sounds, au­thor­i­ties say there’s no con­fir­ma­tion of a cred­i­ble threat and they have re­peat­edly urged spec­ta­tors to not stay away.

Miller said that while such post­ings are psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare in­tended to spread a mes­sage of fear, “We never ac­cede to that.” A front-page head­line in Tues­day’s Daily News cre­atively para­phrased the mes­sage the NYPD seeks to send: “Truck You, ISIS!”

Aside from the trucks, se­cu­rity for the pa­rade in­cludes teams of of­fi­cers armed with as­sault weapons, bomb-sniff­ing dogs

and por­ta­ble ra­di­a­tion de­tec­tors. Plain­clothes of­fi­cers will blend in with the crowd, and other of­fi­cers will be posted on rooftops along the pa­rade route.

The ef­fort comes at a time when the na­tion’s largest po­lice de­part­ment al­ready is stretch­ing its re­sources to pro­tect the mid­town Man­hat­tan home of Pres­i­den­t­elect Don­ald Trump. On Elec­tion Day, at least a half-dozen dump trucks walled off Trump Tower’s en­trance on Fifth Av­enue, mak­ing for pho­tos that went vi­ral on the in­ter­net.

There was a sim­i­lar dump truck spec­ta­cle with Ron­ald Rea­gan as pres­i­dent in 1983, when the Se­cret Ser­vice sta­tioned them at the White House. Of­fi­cials at the time in­di­cated it was a re­sponse to un­spec­i­fied threats in the wake of the truck bomb at­tack on a Ma­rine com­pound in Beirut that killed 239 Amer­i­can sol­diers.

In re­cent years, au­thor­i­ties also have used the trucks to help safe­guard the United Na­tions Gen­eral Assem­bly and Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s mo­tor­cades when he vis­its the city — an in­stant for­mula for epic grid­lock. They also were de­ployed last year for the visit of Pope Fran­cis.

Au­thor­i­ties say the Is­lamic State group is try­ing to in­cite fol­low­ers to rent trucks of their own to ram into crowds. In re­sponse, the NYPD has stayed in touch with rental com­pa­nies and urged them to re­port any­thing sus­pi­cious.

Pa­per­work filed on Mon­day in a fed­eral case was yet an­other re­minder of the truck threat. It quoted the man charged with seek­ing to join the ter­ror group say­ing it wanted some­one to com­man­deer a garbage truck for a “Times Square oper­a­tion.”

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