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Frederick ‘preparing for worst' in case of G-8 riots

Tuesday - 5/8/2012, 2:00am  ET

downtown Frederick (Frederick News-Post/Sam Yu)
Frederick Police are advising business owners to remove advertising boards such as these in the second block of North Market Street in downtown Frederick during the upcoming G-8 summit at nearby Camp David. (Frederick News-Post/Sam Yu)

Frederick police are urging property owners to be prepared in case unruly mobs descend on Frederick during the upcoming G-8 summit, as happened in some G-8 host cities.

Frederick will be one of the closest cities when President Obama hosts the leaders from eight of the world's largest economies at Camp David May 18 and 19, said Lt. Jason Keckler.

Protests have resulted in riots and "significant disruption to the operation of the host cities," a police news release stated.

"We're preparing for the worst," Keckler said in an interview.

The police are working on security with state and federal officials, police Chief Kim Dine said in an email. No particular threat has been identified.

"We have no such indications but wanted to be proactive and have folks take common sense precautions," Dine said. "As we go about collective planning efforts with federal, state, and local partners and our own internal planning process, we tasked Lt. Keckler with reaching out to merchants, which of course is all part of good community policing."

Joe Axt, owner of Vibrant Artwear.com on North Market Street, said she appreciates the police advice. Axt said flash mobs have robbed the store previously and the police response was effective and quick.

"The police were wonderful," Axt said. "The chief was just fantastic."

Police reminded merchants that not all forms of protest are illegal. They asked the public to respect protesters' First Amendment rights and to report any suspicious or criminal behavior to the police.

Dine did not have an estimate of overtime that may be required during the G-8 event. State and federal officials may not reimburse the city for expenses, he said.

"Thus far we have been advised that they will not, but that may change," Dine said.

Traffic delays and temporary road closures may be among the problems that occur, Keckler said. He sent cautionary advice to merchants:

  • Do not place sandwich boards or other unsecured materials, such as tables and chairs, outside your business that could be damaged or used to cause damage to your property.
  • Should you feel uncomfortable or unsafe operating your business due to activity in the area, lock your doors and close your business.
  • Make sure your emergency contact information is up to date.
  • Have materials and resources available to secure your business in the event windows or doors become damaged. Some materials to consider are plywood, screws/nails, tools and items to clean up debris.
  • Look out for your fellow merchants and be a good neighbor by offering assistance, keeping them apprised of information and sharing resources.
  • Report any suspicious or criminal behavior to police immediately.

Flash-mob protests: Protests can take on many different forms. While some may view protests as involving people holding signs, there has been a recent trend toward flash-mob protests. These protests usually involve groups of people who form quickly on public ways or private property. They can create a temporary distraction to businesses, and may even create disorder by committing thefts and quickly dispersing. Some of these flash-mob protests can involve dancing to appear less intimidating.

Keckler can be reached via email at jkeckler@frederickmdpolice.org or by phone at 301-600-1231.