Well I have been back home from the RNC since yesterday. Please allow me to begin by stating plainly to all that the following statements, and opinions are based upon my personal points of view, and expresses my personal opinions and not those of the government of the USA or of me as an official of that government.
The trip home to Nassau County on Long Island, NY from my hotel in NYC was interrupted by a side trip to my office. That was made to tie up some loose ends, such as handing in a time sheet for the hours I worked - I'd like to get paid for working 9 days straight on the RNC detail. I also had to let my boss know if I am available for another 2 week or so temporary assignment in the near future. I don't know why I said it, I guess I am wondering again if I was sane at the time, but I said I would be available. I digress, so let me get back to the RNC because this is the report of my doings as much as I am able to comment on my assignment.
As you know I was temporarily pulled out of my regular duties as a federal agent with the Department of Homeland Security and was utilized to augment the secret service for the RNC. There were quite a bunch of other agents like me, who are not regularly assigned to the Secret Service, but who were there doing the same as me. It was for the most part very boring work, but depending on where one was assigned there was more or less a chance for some action from the loonies in the crowds of protestors, or from a single jerk who may or may not have decided to go berserk. I was assigned outside the main entrance to Madison Square Garden, actually inside a building in that area, but I often helped covering the access from the street to the garden.
I was ready for anything for which it was feasible to prepare. I had my body armor, not always worn but in my tricky bag. (I did wear it a few times on nights when we expected trouble.) I had a gas mask, I had a chemical/biological suit, first aid kits were nearby, I had flashlights, I had knives, I had handcuffs, I had a raid jacket, I had other identification to don if the SHTF so the police would know I was a good guy (and this ID would make it obvious). I had food and water in my bag too. I always had my pepper spray. Of course, I also always had my service issued Glock 19 with lots of ammo. I usually carry 2 spare mags and I had them plus two more at all times. With 16 rounds in the pistol, that meant I also had 60 in reserve. Thankfully I needed none of them but there were times I wondered if I would make use of them.
I did have some minor adventures in my drudging and long 9 days of that assignment. As adventures are prone to be, they were brief and surrounded by long hours of blissful boredom and may or may not seem adventurous to others. I can tell you all about most of these and a bit about another because the final one was related to the actual protection assignment and maybe touchy if I divulge too much.
Two of my adventures were connected by coming on the same day as each other. I had attended a briefing and had some time to kill before going to my post. It was just dark outside and a nice but warm night so I took a brief stroll along 34th Street from 7th toward Broadway. As I got to Herald Square I saw a preacher robed in brown with a gold star of David on his front, and a kufi (spelling) on his head, spouting out racism to a crowd. He was holding up a newspaper of 4 or 5 naked protestors who stripped down a day or so before to protest for aids or something like that. As he held up the paper I stopped to listen a bit and he immediately zeroed in a me and said there was one of them now, one of '…the crackers who wants to get naked in front of the children…'. I laughed as did many in the crowd (I think more with me than against me at that point) and I said "…not me brother, I have my clothes on…" to which he responded by railing that I was a gay cracker who had no morality and such and such. I told him to - well let me spare the invectives here because they were not nice but certainly were not racist like the so called robed preacher's spoutings. He got riled and tried to rile the crowd, and swore he would attack me. I invited him to do his worst (I love that line from the Count of Monte Cristo - the movie anyhow - and it sure shut him up for a moment). One guy started to rib me verbally and I asked him so the others could hear me, should I use the N word as he uses the C word. I got some amens to that, and the preacher now having been preached to, I calmly continued back to work.
As I walked back on 34th Street, a large crowd of bicyclists rode by, and I do mean large. They just kept coming. As I got to the intersection of 7th Avenue I was just able to cross toward 33rd Street to get to my post. As I got to 33rd Street I tried to cross but there was just no way without help. A Police Lieutenant in the crowd told his officers that they should stop traffic to help a person in a wheelchair cross the street - the streets were still open in front of the garden but that would soon end; and the entrance to Penn Station remained open. I identified myself and asked if I could cross to get to my post, and said I would give a hand. As we crossed we ordered the riders to stop and actually had to stop a few. One JERK shouted out "I am not stopping". He then stood on his pedals and tried to pump fast and furious. He was only a couple to a few feet from the guy in the wheel chair and sort of aimed at him. I stepped out and just grabbed those handle bars and gave a twist. As the protesting pedal pumper careened earthward, I continued on with a few officers, the Lt., and the wheelchair bound person. The bicyclist was surrounded by officers. My guess is he was one of them who was arrested.
Off to my post and no one seemed ready to believe fully my adventures - but they were true and yet are not anywhere near the best. Those two were the Friday night before the convention if I remember right - well the night of the bike protest anyhow.
One of my other minor adventures took place just outside my hotel (yes they put us up in a hotel - a rather nice one too - so as to be on call 24/7 for the duration of the assignment). I had just left the hotel and was headed to the subway when a crowd of protestors got off and were apparently headed to Central Park - this was on the day of the BIG protest march. Out of the middle of that crowd steps a woman of about 60 or so, she was white, dressed well in a sort of casual business attire, and appeared to be with the protestors or so it seemed to me. She sure seemed like the Milk Toast type of idiot who has nothing better to do than to protest, but I was in for a surprise. She approached me with some directness and said she thought she knew me. She then immediately babbled that I appeared to be a well-intentioned businessman, that she was interested in meeting with me to discuss convention things, and that I should pay her a visit the next day. Thinking she was a protestor type of kook who was looking to get something embarrassing on a delegate (I was in a hotel that housed numerous of the delegates) I saw an opportunity to play along. I just went along and said I was available around 2 PM. She babbled on about how important it was for us to meet and handed me a business card and asked what I did for a living. Since I had to get to work I figured I would lower the boom and surprise her so I told her the truth, that I was a federal agent. Surprisingly she was not frazzled at all and asked with what agency I worked. Now I thought she was trying to play me somehow and thought maybe she is having this all video taped. I told her what agency and she was not frazzled again. I took her card and said I would call, but I was only intent on breaking off to get to the garden and the RNC, and to pass that card to my supervisor. As I turned she grabbed my arm and said, in essence but this is really close to her exact words: 'I'll treat your cock and balls really good; most men leave me $150'. I almost fell down the stairs to the subway, maybe because this was not what I had expected, maybe because of her age or maybe because of the rock bottom price (for NYC anyhow). I said thanks but no thanks because I was a happily married man, and I said it in a very loud voice. Then I walked away. I was the one who got frazzled. I am not usually surprised by hookers but this grandma sort of got the jump on me (only figuratively)! Well I took off for my train with her card in my pocket. She followed protesting loudly that she wanted her card back for various stupid reasons. She followed me downstairs, and I then turned and went back up to the hotel entrance. Once there I approached a police officer on duty and told him a woman was soliciting me for prostitution. When he asked who and I then pointed her out as she came hurrying round the corner he dropped the business card that I had handed to him and started to laugh. She just disappeared. A fellow agent witnessed the last part of this incident as I talked to the officer and the woman disappeared. Oh well, one adventure down and sort of witnessed. By the way, I took that card back from the officer and gave it to my Secret Service supervisor, I don't know if he reported the incident or not; I was not required to write up anything. Strangely enough that card showed her as an accountant, and maybe that was her real profession - I probably will never know.
When I got to my post the protest march was till ongoing late that afternoon. I got there for about the last few hundred to march by. I was happy not to have been there on the day shift because the threat of a massed attack was in the air. It did not happen, but was to later almost come true.
Next were the threats of a catastrophic nature. There were more than one, they were called into 911, in the building which was one of my posts of duty. This was rather harrowing, but none proved to be of any real threat, thank goodness for that. Precautions were taken to ascertain if they were for real or not. I do not think I can go into details on that but suffice it to say they were taken seriously. As this building was at the entrance to the garden, I guess it was a prime target for whackos. There were also a few idiots in the crowd who started screaming and yelling and being otherwise disruptive, they were escorted away by the police.
Next or concurrently were the babes - yes there are also good parts to adventures. There were lots of them all around. Many would stop to talk and I would oblige them, but only of course if I was on a break. I had no dreams of any conquests because I am trying to keep my marriage a happy one but it was nice to see that people appreciated us. It was not just the babes either. Lots of people of all varieties stopped to talk or to thank us. That was a nice touch. One young worker walked up to me saying "Hi beautiful, I need a place to spend the night'. That shocked me more than the 60 year old hooker, this girl was about 20. What an offer for a 48 year old guy like me! I stood my ground, politely ignored the offer, and she was soon seen to walk off with a volunteer worker of about her same age. My partner had also talked to this young one a few times, she seemed very friendly toward us older guys. Oh well something to talk about on the next hunting trip.
I also had another young lady - this one a real lady - stop by often and chat with me as to how things were going. She worked for the RNC. She was the nicest person I met there, with the exception of my partner. I am sorry to say I did not even get her name, I would have invited her to dinner at my house with my family. I also met Curtis and Kuby of the Curtis and Kuby show that airs on WABC radio. For all his liberal talk on the radio Mr. Kuby was pretty supportive of the police in all that he said while he talked to us. No comment on Mr. Curtis! Even though he is my favorite of the pair on the show, I will withhold comment on his attitude toward us during the RNC. Oh no I will not, in my personal opinion, he was unfriendly, and was not supportive except when he was possibly in the eye of a camera! I saw Sean Hannity once or twice but did not get a chance to say hello.
Well once the convention was up and running there were lookouts for whackos, and alerts for possible violent protests, and warnings that protestors would try to storm the garden by force right through my area. One police officer was beaten and stomped on just a few blocks away from us, and that made the hackles stand up on all the law enforcement officer's necks. The NYPD having had one of their own receive serious injuries were sort of hoping for a confrontation, maybe to claim vengeance, yet they remained extremely professional and self controlled throughout the RNC. They caught the in my opinion scumbag who allegedly did the deed, and hopefully if guilty he will spend a long time in jail. There were some smaller disturbances and some big ones but none ever got really close to MSG and the RNC. Of course some jerks got inside pretending to be volunteers or whatever, and they stirred the pot, but I did not get to see any of that, I was busy on my post. For a friend of mine who worked inside, and who wound up being stationed at least once or twice in front of the stage, it was scary indeed. He said when you looked up at the crowd and imagined that maybe just a few would start some sort of pandemonium the thought of being trampled easily crossed your mind. He felt the power of the crowd as enormous. Being he is a democrat I imagine that made it a bit scarier for him than it would have been for a republican (LOL). Funny thing is he heard almost all of the speeches as he was on the floor; and he commented to me that he may for the first time in his life vote republican for president as he was so impressed by what he had heard. Too bad, in my personal opinion, the protestors don't shut up long enough to listen to the speeches of both sides, maybe they would realize they are quite possibly protesting the wrong side.
One night there were also a number of disturbances by which the protestors and anarchists (known anarchists were the ring leaders of this as I understand) tried to divert the police away from MSG. The plan was then to have small groups break through the police and attack the RNC by storming MSG. The police took control of the situation a good distance from the garden, and over 900 protestors were arrested that night (although I heard estimates from 560 to 1200). That night I wore my vest all night long. It was a nervous one, but thanks to the NYPD a safe one. We heard rumors that the same was going to happen on the night the president was to speak. I stayed ready that night too.
As a matter of fact there were some lookouts spotted in the crowd on the last night of the convention. They were seen once and disappeared. That was early on my shift, late in the afternoon. I decided to start looking as the crowd piled into the garden. As it was, more than half the crowd would enter past my post, and past the entrance from the street just in front of my post. As we could use some discretion I positioned myself, between my post and the street entrance so I could observe the crowd. This was considered acceptable by my supervisor so I went with my gut feeling. While out there I told my partner, that it would make my detail worthwhile if I could catch one of the guys, who was a lookout, as he or she tried to sneak inside. People had to pass through heavy gating that had been erected temporarily. It was a real choke point. Many LEOs were stationed there to check people's passes for the event. It made it easy to look at most of the people passing by, but some could pass by without you getting a good look at their faces.
As luck would have it, I was in the right place at the right time for a change. I watched as one guy came through that narrow entrance and held up his pass to the police and as he walked passed some agents stationed there. The agents stationed at the entrance were both talking to other people who had been entering, they were checking their passes. This guy saw his opportunity and took it. Had he not bowed his head I may have not noticed him, but he dipped it just a bit as he walked between the two agents. That tiny bit of suspicious behavior had me zero in on him, and I took a good look. As I did I saw that he headed for the middle of the crowd waiting to get inside. He then turned away from the entrance area and kept his head down, and even covered his face at one point with his hand or his pass. I already had him pegged - he was on the list - I had his photo in my pocket and quickly in my hand for verification. I let him go in the crowd, it was moving very slowly, and I got my partner. We took a look and though it was hard to find him, we did. As the crowd moved my partner said he can only see the profile because the guy kept looking away; he wanted to see the front of his face to be sure. We waited a bit more and repositioned. Then my partner walked over and said it looked like a good hit! Any self doubt I had melted away fast as the heat of readiness for action welled up inside of me. I told my partner we should go to make the grab, and we moved in just as he was about to enter a breezeway to enter MSG. The suspect tensed at first as if to run or resist but a quick elbow hold and a wrist hold with a tad of pressure, along with my telling him to ease up, and he relaxed. He was escorted out of the crowd, to a more secure area; and later on the Secret Service took him away for questioning. I have no idea what became of him - I am still waiting for a Secret Service supervisor to say "good work" to me - that would have been a nice touch. Of course, my partner and the other LEOs and Secret Service Agents, and Security Officers around me thought this was a pretty grand accomplishment. Out of the thousands of people who passed my post each day, I nabbed one guy out of a handful whose picture we had been given to look for in those crowds. I am pretty satisfied with my performance at the RNC, and I'll leave it at that for blowing my own horn. My partner was great, I would depend on him for any enforcement action as my backup. I will get to work with him again as he is in my current office.
Of course, there were other harrowing moments at the RNC. Protestors inside the garden screaming like banshees, and attempting to disrupt the political process of America. Get that, think about that. They call President George W. Bush and the Republicans "Nazis"; yet it is they who try to stop or disrupt a peaceful political convention. They call the police violent fascists yet it was they who started the violence and who attacked, seriously wounded, and hospitalized a police officer; and it was they who planned to storm the garden if possible. They come and they protest, and that is fine by me. Heck I would protect their rights to do so; but I also will protect other people's rights to assemble or to exercise free speech at a political function such as the RNC. They (the liberal protestors) apparently do not realize, or do not believe, or maybe even want to deny that each of us has the same rights to the same degree! This country is the United States of America; and it is not, in my personal opinion, the United States of the Piss Pants Bed Wetting Cry Babies even though they too have rights here. It is, again in my personal opinion, about time they grow up and start protecting those rights and standing up for America against our enemies and not against other patriotic Americans! They ought to realize that Americans are giving their lives to protect these freedoms in dung heaps over in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the mountains of Pakistan. They should realize that while they cry and whine, and pee in their beds in fright of the other political party - real men and real women are out there protecting them from real harm. Those real men and women are doing a darned good job of it too. It is so good that every morning the mommies of whom I see to be the make believe heroes of the protesting crowds (the bed wetters) are able to clean their sheets once again and hang them in the sunlight to dry. The thing is though that the sunlight that dries those pissed upon sheets has been blotted out a bit. Not by the smoke from bombs in lands afar, nor by the dust already fallen from the collapse of the Twin Towers; the sun has been a bit blotted out by the smoke raised by those same bed-wetters as they burn American flags. This while the mothers of the real heroes hang American flags in honor of the fallen both in hell holes overseas and even here at home such as on 9/11.
Chances are I will see more of this type of duty as the elections draw near, I also may see some action of a different nature to what with the anniversary of 9/11 upon us. My part though is and will be minimal compared to those who have and may still make the ultimate sacrifice. My part is also minimal to those who are stuck abroad far from home for months or maybe even years protecting our freedoms. In light of that I can only hope that all will remain calm here at home and abroad and my thoughts go out to those who are facing the real enemy. Then again I guess my thoughts and prayers are even also with those who don't see the enemy right in front of them, the confused lot who protest for the sake of protesting only to satisfy their own spoiled rotten bed wetter natures. I pray that they will soon awaken and grow up enough to realize the true face of the enemy; and that enemy is not another patriotic American - not by a long shot. God Bless America (and I am an agnostic at best) but you get my drift; and if you are an atheist then just pray to the force, or to mother nature, or to the heavens to have America Blessed by whatever fate can bestow upon her.
All the best,