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Eve of 2012 RNC: Disruptions and Marches Begin, Convention Delayed Due to Storm, 8/26/12: photos
The night before the 2012 Republican National Convention was set to begin in Tampa, Florida, police from agencies across the country continue to guard the concentric rings of security barriers surrounding the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the site of the convention. Apparently, at least some of the officers stationed at roadblocks have been instructed to question and demand identification from anyone taking photographs in the area, including credentialed journalists (video link below). Nevertheless, the first protest disruptions and marches kicked off the day before the scheduled start of this year's RNC. The convention, though, has now been officially postponed for one day due to the approach of Tropical Storm Isaac into the Gulf of Mexico. Now, the political spectacle will not begin on Monday, August 27th as scheduled. Instead, the political event will be compressed into three days. Protesters, however, will continue with their plans to begin major demonstrations on Monday.
[Pictured above: "RNC only" sign reminds drivers that it requires a Secret Service pass to enter within the inner sanctum of the Republican party]
While Tampa experiences frequent rain throughout the year, rains began in earnest on the afternoon of Sunday, August 26th as Tropical Storm Isaac moved into the southern portion of the Gulf of Mexico. It is anticipated that the storm -- while passing through the center of the gulf and not striking Tampa directly -- will bring heavy rains and high winds late Monday and into Tuesday. The expected stormy weather has caused the RNC's planners to cancel the first day of the convention, packing the event into three days instead of four, with the show still ending on Thursday, August 30th as scheduled when Mitt Romney will address the republican faithful
The day before the convention was set to begin, social justice activists began with protests in both Tampa and nearby St. Petersburg. Seven activists were ejected from the Tampa Theater for chanting and hanging a "Working Families" banner during a speech by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Coalition event. On the other side of the Tampa Bay, a Death of Democracy March was held to draw attention to the "worlds largest cocktail party" being held at taxpayers expense. They were joined by local faith leaders for a community vigil and march on the same “RNC Kick-Off Party” being held at Tropicana Field in In St. Petersburg. In all, nearly a thousand people turned out to protest the event.
In the evening, while taking the photographs seen here of downtown Tampa, a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy stopped myself and videographer Jacob Crawford to ask what we were doing. He said we were not being detained but demanded identification. When he was provided with identification, he went to his patrol car and entered our names into his computer, checking for warrants and outstanding legal issues, as well as to file an "information sheet" on his contact with us. While the deputy was doing the background check, and initiating the contact report, his partner at the roadblock, a Tampa police officer with his own patrol car, informed us that they had been instructed to view anyone photographing in the area as suspicious and to demand identification. They said they had stopped two other people with cameras earlier in the day. I asserted that they would not be stopping us, in the rain no less, if we had large video cameras with a corporate news logo on the side. (Video from the incident linked below.)
A number of protest events are planned for Monday, starting with the March on the RNC at noon. This event starts with a 10am rally at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, located at 1200 North Orange Avenue in will head to the officially-designated "free speech zone" near the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Later in the afternoon, at 3pm, the March For Our Lives will depart from Camp Romneyville at 1312 N Tampa Street. The March For Our Lives is organized by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, who also held a march at the 2008 RNC in St. Paul. At 11pm, there will be a Roving Radical Dance Party beginning at 1800 East 8th Avenue in Ybor Centennial Park, presuming the weather outside is bearable at that point.
Stay tuned. The next couple of days promise to be very wet and windy. How wild things get remains to be seen...
Lead-Up to 2012 RNC: Anarchists, IEDs, Guy Fawkes, Feces, Drones & a Tampa Police State, 8/25/12: photos
Video - 2012 RNC: Fear Mongering, Undercover Cops, and the Corporate Media
Note the Sun Trust building in background with American flag lights on roof.
Video from police incident mentioned above: