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‘Event Zone’ opponents worry about police actions
Posted May 3, 2012 by Kevin Wiatrowski
Updated May 3, 2012 at 10:10 AM
Groups planning to protest the Republican National Convention this summer asked City Council this morning to place limits on the powers of police.
Speakers told council they expect the 4,000 police on hand to patrol city streets during the RNC to be the aggressors more often than not.
“We expect to lead a peaceful march on Aug. 27,” said Jared Hamil, spokesman for the Coalition to March on the RNC. “They only violence we expect is from the police.”
The Tampa Police Department is recruiting about 1,700 officers from outside the region to supplement the policing capacity of the city and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Speakers said they expect those out-of-town officers to be the likeliest source of violence if it happens.
“The fight starts with law enforcement,” said Amos Miers of the group Resist the RNC.
Tampa spent the past few months ordering equipment to enhance its policing abilities during the RNC. The gear ranges from an armored personnel vehicle to new cotton uniforms for police. It also includes high-tech security cameras and an eye-in-the-sky link for helicopters.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn has proposed a litany of items that police will confiscate if protesters bring them into the downtown “event zone.” That list includes gas masks, sticks, water guns and many other things. The “event zone” rules also ban people from blocking sidewalks or wearing masks.
“If there are restrictions places on protesters, why shouldn’t there be restrictions places on the actions of police officers?” asked prospective protester Corey Uhl of the Coalition to March on the RNC.