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NYPD Issues Warning About Protests During Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Event

People try to take a look of the 2023 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree as it is lifted by a crane into place at Rockefeller Plaza Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)

New York City Police Counterterrorism Officials Warn of Potential Disruption at Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

With anticipated attendance in the thousands, Rockefeller Center is preparing for its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony this Wednesday evening. However, concerns have been raised by the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence and Counterterrorism Bureau (ICB) regarding potential protests related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Law enforcement and government agencies received a confidential threat assessment advisory from the ICB, emphasizing that there is currently no specific or credible threat targeting the tree lighting ceremony. Nevertheless, the advisory highlights the ongoing and ever-evolving risk landscape within the United States, cautioning against malicious actors who may perceive mass gatherings and high-profile events as opportune moments during the holiday season.

In light of recent disruptions at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a shooting incident in Vermont, where three college students of Palestinian descent were targeted, authorities have become increasingly vigilant. The ICB bulletin acknowledges the prevalence of online content aimed at inciting violence from various political and ideological factions but notes that such propaganda is common during this time of year.

Notably, the bulletin references an al-Qa’ida publication released on November 24, urging attacks against military targets in both the Middle East and the West, as well as those perceived to support Israel. Additionally, pro-ISIS online users have redistributed propaganda encouraging followers to target crowds at Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, featuring alarming images of people near a Christmas tree with an approaching truck.

Law enforcement agencies remain resolute in their commitment to maintaining public safety during this festive season. Enhanced security measures will be implemented to safeguard the event and ensure that attendees can enjoy the tree lighting ceremony without any disruptions.

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