NYC: "improvised grenades" go off at UK consulate; activists face scrutiny
CNN reports May 5:
New York - Two "improvised explosive devices" made from "novelty-type grenades" have exploded in front of the building that houses the British Consulate in New York City, police and officials said. The early Thursday morning blasts shattered windows but did not cause significant damage or any injuries, the New York Police Department said. The devices, which contained black gunpowder and a fuse, blew out a chunk of concrete in the flower box where they were planted outside the building. The explosions occurred as voters in Britain were casting ballots in a general election in which Prime Minister Tony Blair is seeking a historic third term for his Labour Party. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said police had no indication who was responsible for the blasts. "It is true the British Consulate is in that building, but I don't think anybody should jump to conclusions," Bloomberg told reporters at the scene in midtown Manhattan.
This admonition has, predictably, failed to stop undue media speculation, if not quite conclusion-jumping. The NY Times could not resist linking the incident to recent peaceful protests outside the building:
Other occupants of the building have attracted controversy in the past, the police said. One recent protest, for example, concerned Israeli policy on Palestinians, and was directed at an official of the Caterpillar Corporation there, since the Israeli Army uses special Caterpillar bulldozers.
Israel's Haaretz went further:
Police chief Raymond Kelly told reporters he was looking at another possible target -- a board member of Caterpillar Inc. - who works in the building. The company sells bulldozers used by Israel to raze Palestinian homes. Kelly said there had been a protest outside the building by a group called Jews Against the Occupation on April 13. On its web site, the group describes itself as "American Jews (who) reject the Israeli government assertion that it is 'necessary' to subjugate Palestinians for the sake of keeping Jews safe."
New York's Newsday also quoted Kelly in this allusion, while at least giving the activists a chance to defend themselves:
The commissioner noted that left wing Jewish activists demonstrated last month against another tenant -- a board member of Caterpillar Inc. -- over the bulldozing of Palestinian homes. A sponsor of the rally, Jewish Voice for Peace, "only engages in nonviolent activities -- period," spokeswoman Liat Weingart said.
Jews Against the Occupation (JATO) is committed to public protest, and is currently preparing a protest at New York's annual "Salute to Israel" parade, slated for June 5. The last thing they need, presumably, is the police scrutiny that such adventurist yahoo-ism as this "improvised explosive device" incident is likely to bring.
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), primarily San Francisco-based, describes itself as "the largest grassroots Jewish peace group in the United States", with a "guiding principle...that United States foreign policy must be based on promoting peace, democracy, human rights, and respect for international law. Accordingly, until Israel ends it Occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, we call upon the United States to suspend military aid to Israel and on U.S. corporations such as Caterpillar to stop supplying the Israeli army. We denounce all violence against all civilians."
The CNN account emphasizes the low-tech nature of the attack at the building (845 Third Ave., near 51st Street):
The blasts sent a 1 foot (30 cm) chunk of concrete from the planter flying into a panel of glass in the building. One of the grenades looked like a pineapple and the other like a lemon, an investigator said, adding that similar items could be purchased at any toy store. Police said the devices had been altered to explode by the addition of black gunpowder. "It was one of those things you light and then run," a police spokesman told the UK's Press Association.
This unsophisticated character, while doing nothing to alleiviate New York's permanent terrorist scare, will probably also further fuel the city's current anarchist scare, which has been all the rage among cops and tabloids since the Republican National Convention protests.