NSSEs Feed Millions of Dollars Toward Militarization of Police Across American Cities

On April 8th, 2016, the City of Cleveland received a $49-million dollar federal grant from the Department of Justice for security surrounding the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC). The City of Cleveland was able to receive this grant because the RNC is considered a National Special Security Event (NSSE).

To learn more what an NSSE event designation means, Unicorn Riot sat down with Kris Hermes, author of Crashing the Party: Legacies and Lessons from the RNC 2000. We discussed his claims that today’s convention policing model began during Philadephia’s 2000 RNC and what people can expect during the upcoming NSSE’s planned for this summer, during both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

Some of the same examples from the playbook of police tactics that was developed in Philadelphia (2000-RNC) is showing up in Cleveland.” – Kris Hermes

Over the last few decades, people in the United States have witnessed an increasingly militarized response from police during NSSE’s. Despite the monetary increase in security, further militarization of the police, and larger arrest rates around the RNC and DNC (which are NSSE’s), the conviction rates remain lower than 5% (as pictured below). Furthermore, the amount settlement money the departments have paid out for misconduct of police officers have been over $6 million dollars.


Designating particular events a NSSE allows the DHS to oversee the Secret Service, FBI, and local police forces in their surveillance and policing of the event.

Security for NSSEs is organized and led by the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in
coordination with local police agencies.” – National Lawyers Guild

In 1998, Bill Clinton signed Presidential Decision Directive NSC-62 ‘Protection Against Unconventional Threats to the Homeland and Americans Overseas’ (PDF below), effectively creating the ability for the federal government to funnel money to cities to beef up their police force.
[For NSSE skip to page 10]

Police weaponry that is purchased through federal grants is kept after the events and then used against residents of the city.” – Kris Hermes

Since 1998, there have been over 40 NSSE’s. Events classified as NSSE’s include select international meetings, Super Bowl’s, presidential inaugurations, state funerals, RNC and DNC conventions and more. Each city that has hosted recent DNC’s or RNC’s have been granted an average of $50 million. Since 1998, the federal government has given over 1 billion dollars in taxpayer money to police forces in cities around the country hosting these political conventions.

For an example of the way the monies get used during these NSSE’s, look below. You will see the total costs for the Sea Island G8 in 2004 as $139,573, to read the costs correctly you must add the three 000’s as directed, which would make the total $139,573,000.


NSSE’s generate high-level domestic Pentagon intelligence activities

NSSE’s are the high-water mark for domestic military activity in the four-year political cycle of the US federal government. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA), which specializes in satellite imagery, dispatches a personnel team to NSSE’s. A “Proper Use Memorandum” may be procured to permit military spy satellites to investigate critical infrastructure & collect geospatial intellegence (GEOINT).

Another team is provided at NSSE’s by US Northern Command (NORTHCOM), the counterpart to Department of Homeland Security in the Pentagon, based in Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs.

Components of the Defense Department activate for NSSE’s under the framework of CONPLAN 3501, Defense Support of Civil AuthoritiesFull DSCA text here.

(NORTHCOM’s martial law framework, CONPLAN 3502, “Civil Disturbance Operations,” comes closest to enactment during NSSE’s, using systems like the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Guard units to perform crowd control. 3502’s predecessor, GARDEN PLOT, was used to plan military control during the 1992 LA riots.)

In St Paul in 2008 the Multi Agency Communications Center (MACC) hosted personnel from NORTHCOM and NGA – in fact NORTHCOM had more seats than any other agency. This information was published by Wikileaks. (More about the MACC from Antifascist Calling)

[RNC 2008 NSSE – St. Paul/Minneapolis (“Twin Cities”), MN] NORTHCOM NSSE command structure featuring AT&T, Sprint, & Verizon.
This is the first of a series of articles and media projects that Unicorn Riot will be doing this summer leading up to the RNC and the DNC.

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Written by Andrew Neef