February 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm
Carson Chambers, ABC Action News
Two large groups are already trying to secure city permits for hundreds to protest at the Republican National Convention in Tampa scheduled for August.
“We are in the process of designating parade routes, determining where the protest areas may be,” said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
The special events applications filed with Tampa’s Parks and Recreations Department show ‘Fight Back Florida,’ the same protest group that rallied hundreds to the USF-hosted Republican Presidential Debate, wants to march from Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to the Tampa Bay Forum.
The second group, the AFL-CIO, which is a labor federation, applied to march from Joe Chillura Park near the County Government Center to the convention site for five days.
“This is the first of many permits that will be filed, there will be all kinds of folks who want to participate in this, both on the inside of the building and outside of the building, and we’re going to try to accommodate all of them. But we also expect people to behave,” said Buckhorn.
Police are preparing for those who don’t like protestors, who caused violent upheaval at St. Paul-Minneapolis’s 2008 convention. Police Chief Jane Castor says they will have 3,500 officers and other assisting agencies on the street every day during Tampa’s Convention, plus back-up wearing a different uniform.
“We will use the National Guard in a very small capacity for stationary positions, security on buildings, and/or working traffic control,” said Castor.
Chief Castor says the city will send representatives to Chicago’s G8 Summit in May, what’s known as a National Special Security Event. The United States Secret Service is the lead law enforcement agency.
Castor added they’re also tailoring short-term city ordinances to keep downtown Tampa secure.
“We looked at the different convention sites and some of the ordinances they had in place to ensure that it was a safe event and we are in the process of reviewing those now to see if there’s anything we need to put in place on a temporary basis,” she said.