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Envelopes With White Powder Sent to Mayor and 6 Banks


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April 30, 2012

On the eve of planned May Day protests across the country, envelopes containing white powder were sent to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and six banks in Manhattan, officials said Monday.

The envelopes, intended to frighten their recipients but later found to be harmless, caused evacuations and shutdowns of the bank branches and a city building while the Police and Fire Departments investigated. No person or group immediately claimed responsibility for the mailings.

The letter addressed to the mayor never made it to City Hall. It was opened in a mail room on the second floor of 100 Gold Street, a city official said.

An employee who was exposed to the powder was isolated as a precaution, but the police did not report any harm caused by the substance.

A spokesman for the Police Department said that 100 Gold Street was one of seven locations in Lower Manhattan and Midtown where envelopes containing powder were opened.

Five of them were branches of Wells Fargo and one was the Park Avenue headquarters of JPMorgan Chase. At one Wells Fargo branch in Midtown, the powder received there was determined to be cornstarch, the police spokesman said.

A city official said two of the letters sent to banks read in part: “This is a reminder that you are not in control. Just in case you needed some incentive to stop working. We have a little surprise for you. Think fast.” They ended with, “Happy May Day.”

The message led some officials to speculate that the mailings had been orchestrated by the Occupy Wall Street movement, which had scheduled protests in several places in the city on Tuesday.

But Bill Dobbs, a member of the Occupy Wall Street press team, said, “It doesn’t sound like anything that’s part of the plans for tomorrow.”