Tampa City Council passes "Event Zone" ordinance

  • Occupy Tampa held a "retirement party" for the 1st Amendment.

The Tampa City Council today voted to approve the Buckhorn administration's revised rules for protesters at this summer's Republican National Convention.

The 5-2 vote on the ordinance came on a first reading. A second and final reading will take place in two weeks.

After the vote, members of Occupy Tampa held a retirement party for the First Amendment outside City Hall.

The ordinance covers regulations for the "Event Zone," the protest area formerly known as "Clean Zone." That moniker was rejected by critics who felt the label was negative, and an indication of how the administration viewed protesters.

That original Clean Zone ordinance was denounced not just by activists but also by a majority of the Council, who sent the city's legal staff back to the drawing board. The revised version still does not please everyone: Councilmembers Mary Mulhern and Yolie Capin voted no today.

Mulhern remains critical of the size of the Event Zone. City officials say the area encompasses downtown Tampa, but it actually expands beyond that. The perimeters of this zone were even larger in the first version, but city attorneys reduced the footprint to answer that criticism.

Mulhern said it was perhaps the only time she has ever agreed with Governor Rick Scott, who in rejecting Mayor Buckhorn's request to ban guns inside the Event Zone, wrote in his letter that the "safe zone" (as he wrote) included areas "across the river, and distant, from the convention center and Secret Service safe zone."