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article imageIn Tampa, protest fizzles, RNC sizzles

By Larry Clifton     Aug 29, 2012 in Politics
Tampa - Tuesday, Democrats who wished tropical storm Isaac would hit Tampa and that protesters would storm the Republican Convention as mainstream media reporters rubbed their hands together were deeply disappointed.
Turns out, street preachers are making more noise than protesters and Isaac missed by a couple hundred miles, giving delegates a free day to drop cash in Tampa restaurants and entertainment venues, according to a Centro Tampa report.
While most “news reports” warned that thousands of angry protesters might converge on Tampa to disrupt the RNC main event and Isaac might force Republicans to shut down its convention, neither event had occurred on the first day of the convention.
In truth, street preachers are making more noise downtown than the few hundred protesters that show up erratically in small groups. The biggest protester rally as of Wednesday, at 9:30 a.m. EST, took place in Ybor City, as just over 300 protesters made their way down Seventh Avenue in a disorganized impromptu parade.
Outside the convention headquarters, protesters ranks were small and benign so much so that Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor cancelled a scheduled afternoon press conference.
Just after noon, on Tuesday, Castor and Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee stood before a public viewing area where protesters were expected to gather in force. Strangely, not a single demonstrator was in the area. Castor and Gee chatted a while before leaving to go about their business.
"Maybe there just aren't that many people opposed to the Republican ideals," said Gee, a Republican.
A handful of protesters sat down Tuesday afternoon in the street near Tampa police headquarters and a small group of protesters tried to enter the Straz Center to arrest former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for war crimes in a rather bizzarre exhibition. Neither event garnered much attention nor was a warrant for Condoleezza’s arrest produced.
About 20 Ron Paul supporters were spotted at a protest area across from the Tampa Bay Times Forum where they hung signs on a fence and mostly talked to each other.
"I came here to support Ron Paul for the last hurrah at the Republican National Convention," said Bernard Carman of North Carolina.
Many of the protesters were relatively well behaved, according to a report, like 59-year-old Frank Blankenship, of Gainesville, who sported a Che Guevara button and a Tax the Rich button.
"They think it's important to have the Republican convention here, so I think it's important for me to come out and express my support for the people out here," said Blankenship, who attended the 7th Avenue parade.
For his part, protester Michael Long thinks it’s too difficult to vote in America and voiced his opinion against Florida’s purge of illegal voters from its electoral rolls.
He told a reporter that the goal of the rally was to inform the public about voter suppression and to motivate people to stand up against it.
"People don't understand how rare voter fraud is in this country," said Long of Tampa. "It's a smokescreen to pass laws."
"We should be passing laws to make it easier for people to vote," he said.
Tuesday, the news on protesters was that there wasn’t much news on protesters. Occupy Tampa had larger turnouts earlier this year, but even that group was greatly diminished as the RNC moved on.
More about Republican National Convention, RNC Tampa 2012, protesters RNC 2012, occupy tampa rnc, media bias rnc
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