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Pro-Palestinian activists want to disrupt the tree lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center: police have increased security measures


Alina Prikhodko

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NYPD is calling for "heightened vigilance" during the Rockefeller Center tree lighting ceremony after pro-Palestinian protesters announced they planned to "overwhelm" the iconic event, reports New York Post.

Police expect tens of thousands of spectators to flock to Midtown on Wednesday, November 29, and there are no “specific or credible” threats aimed at the world-famous annual event. However, the threat assessment notice notes that the ceremony could be used by “miscreants” wishing to cause harm.

Since the deadly Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, “a number of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) have persistently called for broad attacks on US interests,” the NYPD memo said.

While such propaganda alone is not a reliable cause for alarm, these “incitements” may “resonate” with “homegrown violent extremists” in the US and “mobilize some of them to take action that requires heightened vigilance” during the holiday season.

Call to action

The police notice comes just as Palestinian-led NGO Within Our Lifetime, which is responsible for several recent demonstrations in the city, announced plans to disrupt the tree lighting celebration by “flooding” it with protesters.

The organization called on its supporters to “Organize a mass rally in support of Gaza,” noting that this year the ceremony falls on the UN-recognized International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

“Join interfaith groups to answer the call of Palestinian Christians to spend this holiday season speaking out against the genocide of Palestinians carried out in our name using our taxes,” the post reads.

On the subject: Former Barack Obama adviser arrested and charged with inciting hatred

The majestic evergreen tree will be lit during a ceremony from 8 to 10 pm at Rockefeller Plaza to mark the start of the holiday season in New York. The tree lighting will take place less than a week after 34 pro-Palestinian demonstrators were detained for attempting to disrupt the parade Macy's.

Four people were arrested and charged with obstructing government agencies, disturbing the peace, trespassing and resisting arrest.

Another 30 people, whose names were not disclosed, received summonses to appear in criminal court. In the most dramatic display of anti-Israel protesters, they glued their hands to the middle of 6th Avenue and smeared themselves with fake blood, briefly stopping the 97th annual parade.

Safety first

One Brooklyn police officer said officers “must enforce the law” if violators interfere with the tree lighting in this manner.

“This is a family event where people come with children. – said the source. “Guests should not be afraid.”

Police note that “ideologically unrelated attackers” also tend to strike during the holidays. An example cited is a lone arsonist who in December 2021 allegedly set fire to a Christmas tree outside the News Corp building, which houses the offices of Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.

The arsonist, Craig Tamanaha, used a lighter and possibly accelerants to cause an estimated $500 in property damage to the artificial tree, police sources said. The incident then took place in a well-patrolled, busy area near Rockefeller Center.

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