City Council member Mary Mulhern speaks at Occupy Tampa general assembly listen10/20/11 Josh Holton
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Last night City Council member Mary Mulhern spoke to about 80 members of Occupy Tampa at the amphitheater near Kiley Gardens. Members of the protest group vented their frustrations, and looked for hope in their quest to express themselves within the law.
The Tampa Police Department has asked Occupy Tampa to leave public parks, sleep only on the sidewalk, keep 4 feet of open space, and to not place belongings on the pavement. But Mary Mulhern could not name the rule that prevents sleeping on sidewalks either, even though she said police would be within their rights to prohibit that. She mostly supported the group’s efforts, but she said they need to better define their strategy for getting out their message. She was disappointed that there was not more public opposition to a partial ban on panhandling that is going up for a final vote today.
The group has mainly been focused on asserting their first amendment rights, and demanding major economic and campaign finance reforms. But Mulhern pointed out that major changes are also happening on a local level.
Occupy Tampa will march to Tampa City Council at 8:30 this morning to appeal for a park they can legally occupy, and address what they call police harassment of their assembly. Some members may also oppose the final vote for partial panhandling ban. The group has also had difficulty contacting Mayor Bob Buckhorn, another concern they plan to air during public comment this morning. The group was grateful that Mary Mulhern took the time to help them understand city code. Many of the protesters were flustered that Mulhern couldn't give them better connections with the mayor's office, although many appreciated that there one person can only do so much, even as an elected official for the City of Tampa.