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US The Waukesha effect: A surge in weaponized vehicles plowing into crowds wreaks havoc on national safety

13:00  23 november  2021
13:00  23 november  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

At least 20 people injured after SUV slammed into Wisconsin Christmas parade, authorities say

  At least 20 people injured after SUV slammed into Wisconsin Christmas parade, authorities say An SUV sped into a Christmas parade in the Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha, leaving at least 20 people injured, authorities said Sunday. Your browser does not support this video Police in Waukesha, located about 20 miles west of Milwaukee, were urging people to avoid the downtown area. Mayor Shawn Reilly told WITI in Milwaukee that he does not believe there is any current danger to the public. Videos posted to social media, including a live feed of the parade operated by the City of Waukesha, show a red SUV breaking through barriers and speeding into the roadway where the parade was taking place.

Before a red SUV smashed into parade marchers Sunday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, the driver first plowed through barriers and raced past a police officer at a security post.

As horrible as the incident sounds, the brazenness of the vehicle assault is not altogether unusual.

The incident, which left five dead and at least 40 injured, raises new questions about the best security practices to protect crowds from a proliferating phenomenon known as “vehicle ramming.”

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Weaponizing of vehicles is a practice sometimes used by terrorists abroad. But the wanton attacks have also surged in the United States . The uptick began after the police murder of George Floyd prompted Black Lives Matter demonstrations, which in turn prompted angry or fearful motorists to run over protesters.

Joy turns to horror as SUV speeds into Christmas parade

  Joy turns to horror as SUV speeds into Christmas parade WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A joyous scene of marching bands and children dancing in Santa hats and waving pompoms turned deadly in an instant, as an SUV sped through a barricade and into a Christmas parade in suburban Milwaukee while spectators watched in horror. One video showed a woman screaming, “Oh my God!” repeatedly as a group of young dancers was struck Sunday. A father talked of going “from one crumpled body to the other” in search of his daughter. Members of a “Dancing Grannies” club were among those hit. © Provided by Associated Press A police officer uses a flashlight while looking for evidence in downtown Waukesha, Wis.

November 21, 2021; Waukesha, WI, USA; Abandoned chairs, blankets and other items remain along W. Main St. in downtown Waukesha after a vehicle plowed through the Christmas Parade, leaving multiple people injured on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Mandatory Credit: Scott Ash-USA TODAY NETWORK © Scott Ash, News Now Group-USA TODAY NETWORK November 21, 2021; Waukesha, WI, USA; Abandoned chairs, blankets and other items remain along W. Main St. in downtown Waukesha after a vehicle plowed through the Christmas Parade, leaving multiple people injured on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. Mandatory Credit: Scott Ash-USA TODAY NETWORK

A Boston Globe survey identified at least 139 incidents where vehicles rammed into crowds of demonstrators since Floyd’s death in May of 2020. Fewerr than half resulted in criminal charges.

The attack in Waukesha does not fit the demonstrator profile: Parade victims were simply celebrating Christmas, and Police Chief Dan Thompson stressed in a news conference that the carnage was not an act of terrorism. Instead, the driver identified as Darrell Brooks Jr., allegedly was fleeing the scene of an earlier domestic violence incident when the assault happened.

Police: 'Some' killed when SUV hits Christmas parade

  Police: 'Some' killed when SUV hits Christmas parade WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — An SUV driver sped through a police line and into a parade of Christmas marchers on Sunday, hitting more than 20 adults and children in a horrifying scene captured by the city’s livestream and the cellphones of onlookers. Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said “some” people had been killed but would not give an exact number. A person was in custody, he said, but he did not give any indication of motive. One video shows aWaukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said “some” people had been killed but would not give an exact number. A person was in custody, he said, but he did not give any indication of motive.

Police said Monday night that they were drawing up five charges of intentional homicide against Brooks.

Yet the security questions remain the same. How did the SUV get onto a parade route? What security measures were in place, and were they enough?

At a news conference, Thompson said barricades had been put up at cross streets and police squads were in place to prevent traffic from breaching the parade.

“When the officer tried to engage and stop the threat, he (the driver) still continued through to the crowd,” Thompson said. The officer fired his gun at the SUV but was not able to thwart the attack.

Video shows the red SUV crunch into and over metal barricades laid end to end on the roadway, then roaring past a police officer.

Waukesha officials could not be reached Monday to discuss security measures in detail, and a copy of their plans was not immediately available.

Participants in the 58th Annual Waukesha Holiday Parade marched down Main Street, through the heart of the community's business district, with more than a dozen streets intersecting the route.

Wisconsin Christmas parade live updates: 81-year-old, 79-year-old among the 5 killed

  Wisconsin Christmas parade live updates: 81-year-old, 79-year-old among the 5 killed Five people were killed and more than 40 others injured when a car plowed into a Christmas parade in Wisconsin.The suspect, 39-year-old Darrell Brooks, is in custody, authorities said.

A Department of Homeland Security web page on vehicle ramming notes that street events and other gatherings provide “soft targets” that often have little protection and can be attacked with “devastating impact.”

The DHS guidance says security plans should take into account event needs and venues, so strategies "cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach.” Standard precautions include the use of bollards, trucks, planters and other barricades to separate crowds from weaponized vehicles.

Police investigate at the scene of a crash involving multiple people and injuries at a holiday parade in Waukesha on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. © Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Police investigate at the scene of a crash involving multiple people and injuries at a holiday parade in Waukesha on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021.

“It is important to ensure that these architectural solutions are appropriately sized, adequately anchored, and purposely reinforced against impact loads,” notes the DHS advisory.

Mia Bloom, a fellow with Georgia State University's New America's International Security Program, said event planning can help. But in the end, “Securing a venue is virtually impossible” — especially when the crowd is on a street. There are just too many access points, she said, and too many ways to attack.

6th Intentional Homicide Charge Added For Driver Who Crashed Into Wisconsin Christmas Parade

  6th Intentional Homicide Charge Added For Driver Who Crashed Into Wisconsin Christmas Parade The sixth charge is for victim Jackson Sparks, an 8-year-old boy who was walking in the parade with his 12-year-old brother Tucker, who was also injured.The sixth charge is for victim Jackson Sparks, an 8-year-old boy who was walking in the parade with his 12-year-old brother Tucker, who was also injured in the crash, The Associated Press reported. If convicted, each charge has a life sentence.

She noted that the Waukesha driver penetrated security just as a terrorist would: “It wasn’t premeditated,” she added, “but it wasn’t accidental.”

Bloom warned that vehicle-ramming incidents are likely to increase because at least 15 states have adopted or are considering laws that shield motorists from criminal charges when they drive into demonstrators.

In an article for Just Security, Bloom said that tactic gained traction among right-wing extremists after neo-Nazi James Fields killed one demonstrator and injured others with his vehicle during a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fields was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Flowers and notes are left in memory of Heather Heyer, who died after she was struck when a car plowed into a crowd protesting the 'Unite the Right' rally. © Mykal McEldowney, Indy Star-USA TODAY NETWORK Flowers and notes are left in memory of Heather Heyer, who died after she was struck when a car plowed into a crowd protesting the 'Unite the Right' rally.

Today, Bloom said, fringe groups use social media to advocate vehicle attacks, stressing that drivers can simply claim they were fearful and defending themselves against rioters.

That legal posture seems to be successful: According to the Globe, of 139 vehicle attacks on political crowds over the past 16 months, fewer than half resulted in criminal charges.

From the mid-1960s until Floyd's death, there were only three such attacks targeting political protests.

Waukesha Tragedy: Three More Children Are Going Home for Thanksgiving After Being Hospitalized

  Waukesha Tragedy: Three More Children Are Going Home for Thanksgiving After Being Hospitalized The Children's Hospital of Wisconsin released an update Wednesday afternoon regarding the status of their juvenile patients, with three of them able to go home for the holidayThe Children's Hospital of Wisconsin is sharing some much-needed good news in the wake of the tragedy in Waukesha on Sunday.

Bruce Butterwork, senior transportation researcher with the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, said Waukesha's tragedy points the difficulties faced by security planners.

City officials could hardly anticipate such an attack, he noted, and preparations always entail a balance of costs with safety — based in part on intelligence.

Butterwork, who co-authored a 2019 study titled, "Smashing into Crowds," said nearly half of all incidents involve a driver who is mentally unstable. Their behavior is unpredictable, he noted, and often doesn't show up on the intelligence radar used by threat analysts.

Brooks' psychological history is unknown, but The Milwaukee Journal reported that he was recently released from jail while facing several charges stemming from violent incidents.

Butterwork compared a heavy car or truck plowing into pedestrians to like a motorized bowling ball mowing down pins. The goal is to “eliminate the bowling alley,” he said, or limit lethality by creating barriers and escape route.

Amid attacks by mentally disturbed individuals and the surge in rammings at political gatherings, Butterworth said even small-town officials have a more difficult job devising security for carnivals, parades and rallies.

“The availability of a car as a weapon has now become part of the landscape," he added. "It’s not that you can eliminate easy targets, but you can certainly reduce them.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The Waukesha effect: A surge in weaponized vehicles plowing into crowds wreaks havoc on national safety

'Glue me back together': Online pleas to aid parade victims .
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Friends and families of the roughly 50 people, including many children, hit by an SUV that sped through a Christmas parade in a suburban Milwaukee downtown say they suffered life-threatening injuries, with some clinging to life. A young girl who is a member of a dance troupe struck by the SUV, a moment captured on cellphone video, woke up Monday and told doctors, “just glue me back together,” according to her GoFundMe fundraising page organized by a family friend.“No child or parent should have to endure this amount pain and suffering," the girl's mother, Amber Konhke, posted Tuesday afternoon.

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