(U//FOUO) Pittsburgh Office of Emergency Management “Occupy Pittsburgh” Threat Assessment

This bulletin was obtained and first published by Nigel Parry.

Occupy Pittsburgh Threat Assessment- Update

  • 4 pages
  • For Official Use Only
  • October 13, 2011



This product was created in response to a request for information (RFI) concerning impacts to the Pittsburgh area from the planned Occupy Pittsburgh set for October 15, 2011. This product is intended to provide the private sector and first responders information on the event and appropriate prevention and response measures. Information in this report was collected through open source materials only. Open sources used in this product may include bias and misleading information. This product is an update to a previous assessment disseminated on October 6, 2011.


  • Current information on the Occupy Pittsburgh event, planned for October 15, indicates planned protests at specific facilities and “occupation” of a local green space.
  • Discussions on social media have maintained a focus on non-violent behavior, despite comments from some contributors.
  • Other “occupation” events may occur in the Region, inspired by these protests.


The Occupy Pittsburgh event is intended as a sympathetic protest to similar events in New York and other “Occupy” protests are meant to emulate protests in the Middle East. The protests are primarily focused on the banking and finance sector, but have expanded to include other causes. Protests in New York have resulted in multiple arrests and the “occupation” of parks near financial institutions.


The current planned events are scheduled to start Saturday October 15, 2011 with a rally at Freedom Corner at Centre Avenue and Crawford Avenue beginning at 11:00.1 The permitted march will move Downtown to Grant Street, Liberty Avenue, Wood Street, then Market Square.

Planned protest locations include PNC Plaza, BNY Mellon, US Steel Tower. March rallies include the following locations:

  • One BNY Mellon
  • Citizens Bank/ BNY Mellon (Union Trust Building)
  • US Steel Building
  • Federal Reserve Bank
  • Liberty Center
  • PNC Plaza

A non-permitted march is planned to take place at 16:00 and move to Mellon Green at 6th Avenue and Grant Street, near BNY Mellon. The organizers for the event have developed a legal argument for occupying the Mellon Green areas. Discussions have also included involvement of legal observers and review of First Amendment processes before the start of the march by their legal advisors.

Moderators for the Occupy Pittsburgh Facebook for the event published an internally controversial “non-violence policy”. The policy reads as such:

“Let it be known that this movement will not be compromised. We are adopting a non-violence “policy” (in which our workgroup is working very hard on- will be posted) and anyone who begins a state of anarchy or incites any kind of violence should expect to be arrested, fined, and in jail for up to 90 days. Violent acts are immediate grounds for expulsion from the movement, and you will be fed to the cops. #occupypgh”

This comment and others related to violent activity have resulted in numerous disagreements with Facebook participants. Web 2.0 tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Groups are being used to coordinate and plan the event. Other related events include the current Occupy IUP (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) event and other “occupy” events could occur in other locations throughout the Region. At this time, no threat from the “hacktivist” group Anonymous has been identified.

Pre-cursor indicators of potential attack or criminal activity may include the following:

  • Elicitation- unusual requests for information beyond curiosity on sensitive aspects of the facility
  • Lost/ missing/ stolen facility uniforms- security, maintenance, or other facility specific uniforms which would allow unsuspecting access
  • Photography and surveillance- observation of sensitive areas or photography of security systems, entrances, or other infrastructure
  • Testing security- triggering alarms or probing incidents to evaluate security response time and capability


Although, the overall threat for this event in Pittsburgh is limited at this time, mitigation and preparedness activities can be considered to counter this threat spectrum.

Appropriate countermeasures to reduce potential risk prior to October 15, include the following options for consideration:

  • Conducting identification checks by ensuring personnel have the correct credentials for the facility and assuring proper access control measures are in place
  • Reporting suspicious activity
  • Establishing liaisons with public safety personnel
  • Exercising civil unrest plans, ranging from a tabletop exercise to functional drills
  • Evaluating facility vulnerability to civil unrest incidents
  • Requesting site assessments of facilities
  • Educating staff on how to avoid protestors and to avoid engaging individuals who may be populating the area
  • Providing alternative points of entry to facilities in the event of non-violent groups blocking conventional ingress routes to buildings
  • Coordinating deliveries to occur on alternative dates so as to avoid opportunity for interrupting goods and services
  • Utilize random security measures such as bag checks, door checks, and perimeter sweeps the week prior

The following countermeasures can be put in place to reduce potential risk on the day of October 15:

  • Providing escorts for tenants and employees of facility if sit-ins or protests prove to block points of ingress
  • Using existing security measures to bolster situational awareness by increasing the frequency of camera sweeps to protest area outside of the facility, and locations of significant assets within the facility
  • Working to neutralize protest environment by decreasing foot and auto traffic in and around protestors


Outstanding information requirements include the following intelligence gaps:

  • Will any individuals or groups participate in the event with propensity for violent activity and how will other participants react to violent activity?
  • Will an occupation of Mellon Green be attempted?

Share this: