Activists call on Tampa to give them permit to march at RNC

Jared Hamil is with Fight Back Florida. He said his group filed for a permit to march on the first day of the convention, August 27, but says the city has dragged its feet "and frankly met us with hostility when it comes to the idea of protesting at the RNC." He called the mayor's Clean Zone ordinance a move to suppress dissent, and called on the City Council to reject the ordinance when it comes back before them next week.

Fernando Figueroa is the organizer with March on the RNC and with Gainesville Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Florida. He said he's been going to cities in Florida to discuss protest plans with other activists and college students. He called the Clean Zone a direct attack on the protest movement.

Activist Tom Burke said he couldn't control what some other protesters might do in terms of destructive acts which the Clean Zone obviously is meant to counter. He said he plans on marching peacefully, and said he agreed with Mayor Buckhorn that there were mistakes made by law enforcement in St. Paul in 2008.

"We agree that the government was heavy-handed. We agree that police shouldn't take shots with rubber bullets at people holding banners at protests. We agree that they shouldn't launch gas canisters or pepper spray people on the ground doing civil disobedience. We agree that they did things wrong in St. Paul, we don't think activists' homes should be raided. Call off the Clean Zone, and give us our permits this week."

  • They want their permits

Chanting "Hey, ho, the clean zone ordinance has got to go," a group of 28 protesters unhappy about Mayor Bob Buckhorn's "Clean Zone" rules on dissenting at the Republican National Convention marched from Joe Chillura Park to City Hall in downtown Tampa Tuesday night.

Following them closely were five Tampa Police department officials, who stood at various parts of the park as a series of speakers blasted the fact that the Buckhorn administration has slow-walked their request for a permit for the first night of the convention, as well as their general disgust with the proposed ordinance on protesting that met with opposition from several members of the City Council last week (city officials say they are waiting until the ordinance with the clean zone is passed before issuing such permits).

Three hours earlier, several of those same protesters held a news conference outside City Hall. Michigan activist Tom Burke called on the mayor to "stop stalling and proposing things that are attempts to repress our democratic rights," saying that "we will march, with or without permits."

Burke is with the group March on the RNC, and said he expects a minimum of 4,000 activists to be in the streets the week of the convention. "While they're holding their circus inside (the Tampa Bay Times Forum), we will be sending a different message outside demanding a just society without a war in Afghanistan, demanding that houses stop being foreclosed upon, " he said Tuesday afternoon.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.