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Video posted before Occupy Tampa protest ''not a credible threat'' to police

5:48 PM, Oct 4, 2011   |    comments
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Occupy Wall Street protesters march in New York City.

New York City's Occupy Wall Street protests are spreading to cities across the country, including Tampa. A march over the weekend attracted hundreds of people, but that number is expected to grow with an "Occupy Tampa" protest scheduled in Gaslight Park on Thursday.

But a video posted ahead of Thursday's "Occupy Tampa" protest has already grabbed the attention of Tampa Police, because it warns the department to stay away from protesters or risk falling victim to a cyberattack. The video has been removed from YouTube, and the account that posted it has been deleted.

"We don't have any information that it's a credible threat," Tampa Police spokeswoman Laura McElroy says. "The group that is holding the event says that they are not connected to that threat. It was Anonymous."

The video was credited to a movement called Anonymous, a worldwide group with no hierarchy that has executed cyberattacks on governmental entities and private companies before.

Tampa Police hopes to help keep the peace, despite the threat. Officers will monitor the protest based on what's called an accordion plan: the bigger "Occupy Tampa" becomes on Thursday, the more officers who will keep watch.

"We want to make sure that this group can exercise their First Amendment rights without interfering with the normal flow of business in downtown Tampa," McElroy says.

Organizers of Occupy Tampa would not comment on-camera for this story, but say the collective is its own voice. They'll express that voice starting on Thursday at noon, when they'll hold an assembly meeting at Gaslight Park and decide on elements of the protest by consensus.

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