I’ll willingly concede that the AGSAF website lends itself to speculation. However, the articles I’ve written our grounded in fact. They tend to focus on prior stampedes, asymmetric cyber-threats, wireless proliferation, public safety and fundamental human rights.
However, the mix of unusual circumstances and random variables surrounding the January 8, 2018 NCAA Division I Championship at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium is cause for legitimate concern.
I’m worried about an unlikely, but incredibly specific scenario unfolding at some point during tonight’s game. My concern is that Donald Trump might tweet a temporary evacuation order to the concourses. This would likely occur during the national anthem or halftime show.
Trump has a lengthy history of feuding with the National Football League and players who’ve engaged in civil protest by kneeling during the national anthem. He routinely tweets his disgust with the players, as well as league management and ownership, for their lack of discipline and leadership.
His anger and dismay reached a dangerous level on October 8, 2017 during a game at Lucas Oil Stadium between the San Francisco 49ers and the Indianapolis Colts. Sensing that many of the 49ers would take a knee, Trump dispatched Vice President Mike Pence to attend the game. His admittedly sole purpose was to make an early exit in defiance of the team’s anti-patriotic demonstration. I was concerned that Trump’s real-time twitter feed could present a volatile variable when it comes to impacting the procedural standards which govern stadium emergency evacuation protocol. So I wrote an article about the incident.
Let’s take a cursory glance at tonight’s Alabama/Georgia game.
First and foremost, it’s a designated “Tier 1” Department of Homeland Security event. That’s the highest level designation for a public spectacle.
Secondly, the television ratings will be off the charts. I suspect that’s why Trump is planning to attend the game. Normally, the President of the United States does NOT attend sporting events of great magnitude. Why? Because it’s a Secret Service logistical nightmare. Traffic is especially problematic in the city of Atlanta. Lest the distraction of a presidential motorcade would, at the every least, appear inadvisable.
Several protests have already been planned. The Atlanta branch of the NAACP is urging fans to wear white and bring white towels. The color white is intended to mock and simulate “liberal snowflake” sentiment. The organization has also planned a “twitter storm” which starts at 6 p.m. and will continue until the game is completed. #AllTrumpsLies is the designated hashtag.
Another group, Refuse Fascism ATL, is planning a “take a knee” demonstration outside CNN headquarters in close proximity to the Mercedez Benz Stadium.
Atlanta police have said they will set up several designated areas for protesters.
Trump is already on the record with this two-pronged tweet directed at Georgia Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis. It didn’t exactly endear him with Atlanta voters.
Leading up to the game, the Atlanta Police Department has issued multiple security statements. Along with the routine “if you see something, say something” request and clear plastic bag reminders, they’ve also added extensive traffic alerts and “no drone zone” warnings. In addition, the Chief of Police issued a specific request for people — Do NOT bring guns to the event and do NOT leave guns in your vehicle. In Georgia, open carry is legal with a proper permit. However, it’s worthy to note that you may openly carry a firearm in a motor vehicle without a permit in the state of Georgia.
But here’s what really concerns me. Kendrick Lamar, Grammy award winning artist and political activist, will be performing the halftime show. But not from inside the stadium. His performance will be held at the adjacent Centennial Olympic Park and “integrated” into the ESPN telecast. It’s reasonable to assume there could be a broadcast delay, just in case things get too “contentious.” Lamar is very outspoken in the realm of police brutality, the Black Lives Matter movement and immigration. These three subjects represent a thorn in Trump’s side.
In my mind, it’s the culmination of all of these unique variables which raise a “red flag.” I’m specifically concerned that Donald Trump might witness something which “angers” him. It could be protesters in the crowd. It could be players on the field, the overwhelming majority who happen to be African American. Or it could be that one bizarre hypothetical moment when Kendrick Lamar throws a “Make America Great Again” hat on the ground and stomps/spits on it. Hey, crazier things have happened. Trump’s narcissistic tendencies, publicity craving compulsion, and impulsive desire to “steal the show” and “hit back 10x harder” make him a credible candidate to tweet something during the course of the game.
And don’t forget, there’s already the established precedent of him evacuating his own Vice President. So it’s not as if we’re entering uncharted territory.
If you gave me odds on whether Trump will actually tweet during the game, I’d take that bet. Las Vegas and some internet gambling sites have even set an over/under. It’s 1.5 tweets throughout the course of the game. My first inclination is to think he’d tweet the most obvious material — praise the NCAA players for standing and respecting the flag, while demonizing the NFL players who arrogantly despise our military and great country (even though the Alabama/Georgia players will not be taking the field for the national anthem). Beyond that, the world is literally Trump’s oyster.
Now here’s something to keep in mind. The world doesn’t always function according to plan. When you introduce variables into an existing equation… 83,000 fans, cocky young football players on a grand stage, a security atmosphere on steroids, major national television exposure, legions of active protesters, a black activist performing at halftime… and then throw in that one, random spark (Trump’s twitter account), it could very well be a recipe for disaster.
Think about the impact of a presidential tweet-storm — “In response to the DISGUSTING thing I just saw, Donald Trump is calling for all fans in Mercedes Benz Stadium to pick up and leave their seats and exit to the concourses. Until we can get this HORRIBLE situation under control! We are proud Americans and will not tolerate the DISRESPECT of our beautiful flag!
Granted, it’s all a hypothetical. But I can absolutely assure you of one thing. The Mercedez Benz Stadium incident command structure does NOT have a tactical, contingency plan in place for something of this nature. And how do I know this for certain? Well, because throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Not just smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!