The same day that anarchist graffiti, metal pipes and piles of bricks were found on a Tampa rooftop, the Hillsborough County Sheriff says this is just the kind of trouble his department has been preparing for.
"There certainly could be some extremists. There's no doubt about it," Sheriff David Gee said.
Gee says the department has spent more than the last year training for every possible scenario. While he says the majority of the protesters will be peaceful, there's a small handful of anarchist groups bent on making trouble.
"We don't think it's going to be a major problem. Certainly we're doing a lot of checks right now. We're doing our homework on the intel side," Gee said.
The group Anonymous has already posted several videos on You Tube, including one threatening Tampa's mayor. And it's their symbol that was found tagged on the downtown rooftop.
"If they do make their way in and [weapons] are used on officers and other citizens, we will deal with that in a very, very urgent matter," said Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor.
Sheriff Gee says there will be arrests; it's just a question of how many. Over the next 24 to 48 hours, thousands of law enforcement officers will be arriving from all around the state. Some you'll see on bicycles, horseback and on foot. Others you won't see. They'll be waiting in the wings and ready with riot gear, if things turn violent.
"I feel comfortable that we've done as much as you can do. We're going to have to be flexible and ready to adapt to anything that occurs over the next week," Gee said
Gee says their biggest problem isn't the anarchists, it's going to be the heat. Already, several deputies have been treated for heat exhaustion during their training. Some were so dehydrated, they needed IV fluids.
Next week, they'll have cooling stations and they'll constantly be trading out field forces, to give them a break from the heat.
WJBK-TV | Fox 2
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