New York prepares for 'Super Bowl of security' as dignitaries arrive for UN General Assembly

New York police and a host of federal agencies are preparing for the the United Nations General Assembly, featuring a week of speeches by dignitaries.

Reuters September 18, 2017 09:49:55 IST
New York prepares for 'Super Bowl of security' as dignitaries arrive for UN General Assembly

New York: New York police and a host of federal agencies are preparing for the annual traffic and security nightmare known as the United Nations General Assembly, featuring a week of speeches by US President Donald Trump and a parade of other dignitaries.

The meeting of the world’s top leaders and diplomats, scheduled to begin on Tuesday, will bring street closures, thousands of police officers and hundreds of protesters to midtown Manhattan, an area already plagued with gridlock on an average weekday.

“It’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl of security,” said J Peter Donald, a spokesman for the New York City Police Department.

Trump will be on hand on Monday and Tuesday, when he will address the body of world leaders for the first time. It was not immediately clear whether he would stay at his Manhattan penthouse about a mile away from United Nations headquarters or sleep at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

New York prepares for Super Bowl of security as dignitaries arrive for UN General Assembly

Representational image. AFP

The event also comes just days after a homemade bomb on a packed commuter train in London injured 22 people, though it failed to fully explode.

A handful of anti-Trump protests in New York have been scheduled, with more sure to come. A march on Monday to combat “white supremacy” will start from Grand Central Terminal, while the left-wing activist group Code Pink has organized a Tuesday march to the UN to protest Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Other protesters will gather outside the UN to call out specific countries, including a rally against Iran President Hassan Rouhani.

The NYPD’s elite counter-terrorism unit, along with detectives from the intelligence bureau and officers from the aviation, harbour, highway and traffic units, will be on hand throughout the week. Donald said the department has plenty of “muscle memory” from previous years.

“It’s a full assortment of personnel from nearly every part of the police department,” Donald said. “We’ll be prepared for anything. We’ll have backup plans and backup plans for the backup plans.”

The US Secret Service, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and various other federal agencies are also involved in providing security during both Trump’s visit and the general assembly.

Vast swaths of the area near the United Nations, on the far east side of midtown Manhattan, will be closed to vehicle traffic, and the Coast Guard will heavily restrict boat traffic on the East River.

Police did not immediately offer an estimate on how much the week’s security and traffic measures would cost.

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