Are Tampa Police taking note of legal settlements from last RNC?

  • Demonstrators arrested at RNC in St. Paul in 2008

Leave it to the St. Pete Times to miss a major social activist event, and then lead a story about the next scheduled protest by highlighting an anonymously posted YouTube video about a "threat" to the Tampa Police Department (a threat discounted by an actual member of the group leading the protest deeper in the story, we should add).

That's how it rolls with the establishment press in Tampa. But while CL was there on Saturday to cover the Occupy Tampa event, we're hoping as the city prepares for the thousands of protesters coming to town next year for the Republican National Convention, that they're monitoring some of the financial sums that law enforcement agencies are paying to individuals for their actions at the last such convention in St. Paul.

There were lots of arrests at that RNC, and you can't go too far these days when talking to Tampa officials about protesters descending into town when the RNC hits the Cigar City next August without hearing the word "anarchist" invoked.

No doubt there have been a minor subset of activists intent on destroying property or bent on committing violence at previous events like the RNC, and law enforcement must prepare for the worst, but that's all that seems to be the message coming from Mayor Bob Buckhorn on down to city staffers when addressing the issue.

On Monday it was learned that three reporters who had been suing the St. Paul and Minneapolis Police, as well as the Secret Service, for wrongful arrest at the 2008 RNC, reached a settlement that includes $100,000 in compensation paid by those law enforcement agencies.

The settlement also includes an agreement by the St. Paul police department to implement a training program aimed at educating officers regarding the First Amendment rights of the press and public with respect to police operations, including proper procedures for dealing with the press covering demonstrations.