Celebrating America’s birthday means an increase of security.
The Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies have put out nationwide warnings of potential terrorist activity where people gather in large groups to celebrate the Fourth of July. While the Homeland Security, FBI and National Counterterrorism bulletin says that there are no active plots, all law enforcement are asking people to speak up if they see suspicious activities.
“I don’t want to tell Americans what to do,” former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell said on CBS This Morning, “But I wouldn’t be surprised if we are sitting here next week talking about an attack over the weekend.”
But local FBI agents are not as worried as the former CIA Deputy Director sounded.
“We always encourage the public to remain vigilant, but we want these events to remain authentic,” Assistant Special Agent of the Counterterrorism Kieran Ramsey told Metro. “It’s better to not overblow the fear of an attack out of proportion.”
“We’re a support role to local authorities, providing personnel and intelligence,” Ramsey said. “We’re there to support them in anyway we can but we want these events to remain a family event. What we’re trying to make sure people understand is that there is no threat to this event or the Boston area. We are filtering various, vague threats that are not credible at this time. The sky's not falling.”
Citing the shooting of an alleged extremist Usaama Rahim in Roslindale on June 2, Ramsey said that the intelligence at hand is prepared for keeping this weekend's festivities safe.
“We were able to prevent something because we are positioned so well,” Ramsey said. “We are that vigilant and that’s why that attack was thwarted. Globally, there is a threat of violence stemming from extremist but people should not be afraid to attend events like the Fourth of July fireworks.”
In a statement issued after recent terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait and Tunisia, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said that federal agencies will continue to communicate with state and local police departments in order to ensure public safety.
“We are encouraging all law enforcement to be vigilant and prepared,” Johnson said in a statement. “We will also adjust security measures, seen and unseen, as necessary to protect the American people.”
During the beginning stages of The United States v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial, authorities said that the 21-year-old terrorist and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, initially plotted to set off bombs at the Fourth of July celebration at the 2013 Charles River Esplanade. Instead, they built the pressure cooker bombs used on April 15 and April 18, 2015, completing the deadly devices earlier than they anticipated.
“We continue to encourage all Americans to attend public events and celebrate this country during this summer season, but always remain vigilant,” Johnson said. “‘If You See Something Say Something’ is more than a slogan.”
Folks hoping to attend the celebration should know what they can and can’t bring to the Esplanade.
Coolers on wheels, backpacks, weapons of any kind, glass, cans, alcohol or grills aren't allowed. Bikes are not allowed through the checkpoint into the Oval. They can be brought in to the rest of the venue, but cannot be left alone, Any bikes locked to security fences or poles will be removed. Personal items must be carried in clear bags and blankets/tarps exceeding 10’ by 10’ aren’t allowed. All carried items are subject to searches.
A new rule this year prohibits any drones or unmanned aerial vehicles -- that means drones.
“We see a lot of unmanned vehicles or drones for photography, but are prohibited at this event, as they were over the Marathon this year,” said Dave Procopio Spokesperson for the Massachusetts State Police. “It’s a security concern where half a million people are gathered, they could be a way to inflict harm or cause distress to those in attendance.”
“We want people to enjoy this event and not give in to irrational fear,” Procopio said. While we can’t ensure 100 percent security, we’re as close as possible. Any public gathering is going to cause a bit of concern, but that’s the world we live in.”