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This is the first time that I have been a part of the story that I am covering, so here goes nothing. While working on a project at Argo Tea Cafe in Columbus Circle, there was a noticeable uptick in police presence. Nothing unusual in Manhattan, especially within the spitting distance of major news outlets. Not only is CNN down here but ABC has a new studio right down the street.
As the tea shop became more crowded, I attempted to go outside to see what was happening. An officer ordered me to stay where I was. For those that know me, it was odd actually having to listen to someone and not do the exact opposite. So I struck up a conversation with someone who had rushed into the building and learned that a suspicious package had been sent to the CNN offices. It was intercepted in the mailroom and the police were called immediately.
That package was addressed to former head of the CIA, John Brennan. Why is this important? Because as of this writing (and admittedly it is early), there have been at least 4 other suspicious packages sent. One to President Bill and Secretary Hillary Clinton, one to President Barack Obama, another to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and finally one to the San Diego Tribune. This is in addition to a package that was sent to George Soros earlier this week. The common denominator is that all have been on the receiving end of contempt and insults by Donald Trump, even if only because the Tribune is part of his war on the media.
Even as things returned to normal around Columbus Circle, the police presence has remained high. Anti-terrorism units are walking around with their guns at the ready. Around the city, offices are being checked to make sure that there isn't anything suspicious happening and employees at many of the tourist destinations are being told to ready themselves for an evacuation, if that need arises. That's the thing about my adopted city; we are always prepared for whatever comes our way. And though we may not always agree or get along, we will help one another in an instant.
Adding a layer of ick to this story is a false report that a suspicious package was also sent to the White House. No matter how despised he is or how his words and actions may have incited these actions, nobody (not even Trump) deserves to live in such a fear. Officials from the White House refuted the reports that there was anything suspicious happening there. White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders released this statement: "We condemn the attempted violent attacks recently made against President Obama, President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and other public figures. These terrorizing acts are despicable, and anyone responsible will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The United States Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies are investigating and will take all appropriate actions to protect anyone threatened by these cowards." It is the strongest and arguably the most Presidential statement put out by this administration. Should that be applauded? Maybe or maybe not, depending on who you ask. The Nationalist stance that Trump has taken in the days before the mid-term elections may have contributed to the issues at hand.
This story is still breaking and if there are updates, I will try to bring them to you as they happen. The NYPD will be holding a press conference close to the Time Warner Building in Columbus Circle at 12:45pm.
Update: It is believed that all of the suspicious activities are linked together. The FBI is investigating.