Yesterday the St. Petersburg City Council reversed itself from its previous vote two weeks ago, and voted 5-3 to allow for the vacating of the north sidewalk in front of BayWalk, per the request of its owners, along with Mayor Rick Baker, Mayoral candidate Bill Foster, the editorial page of the St. Petersburg Times, and other figures of the city's establishment.
Councilmember Herb Polson reversed his vote. We hope to be able to speak with him later today to learn why he changed his mind from two weeks ago.
The activist group St. Pete for Peace, whose demonstrations against the war in Iraq have been blamed by the business establishment as one of the reasons why BayWalk has struggled in recent years, is coming out swinging. The group says they will be holding a demonstration tonight at 8:30 PM.
The group says on its website:
In addition to being on the sidewalk we will also be marching in the crosswalk. Its ironic that we had not protested at Baywalk in seven months and offered not to protest there for another 12 months. But now, due to the city council resolution, which was meant to stop us from being at Baywalk, we will once again hold regular protests there.
News coverage last night focused on the fracus that erupted after the vote came in. Watching the video, the anger and disappointment amongst the activist crowd in St. Pete was palpable, with comments in the chambers such as "Too big to fail", "You've just driven a stake through the Constitution", and "City of fascists" being uttered.
The Reverend Bruce Wright disgustedly walked out saying, "You're so full of sh*it it's ridiculous."
Here's video of reaction to the council's vote: