There's an armed guard of about five police officers, equipped with shiny black helmets and long-range rifles, standing outside the Hilton where ad:tech NY is taking place.
I crept up close to sneak a pic but wasn't stealthy enough. One of them asked me to put my camera away. "My boss is watching," he said -- almost apologetically. When I ventured closer, I realized he wasn't all that scary under the bulletproof vest and the rifle held in front of him with both hands.
He had eyeglasses and a plaid shirt. A long-range shooter with eyeglasses! For some reason that struck me as strange. Without the gear, I would've characterized him as an English teacher with a lisp.
"Why are you guys here?" I asked. "Did something happen?"
"It's just a random sweep," he said. "We do it in all the tourist areas."
"So this has nothing to do with the election?"
"Oh, no," he said. "We've been doing this since the attack on the World Trade Center."
"You've been doing this for a long time." I was skeptical.
"Do many terrorist acts occur in tourist areas?"
"Not since, thankfully," he said.
"Well ... thanks," I said, dashing back into the hotel and nearly slamming into an older woman holding her coat clutched shut at the bosom. She was murmuring, "I wanted to get away from that corner as fast as possible" to a husband or son, who hustled her along by the shoulders, looking nervously backward.