Coalition to March on the RNC making final preparations for Republican convention protest

07/27/12 Janelle Irwin
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A nationwide coalition of political groups is expecting 5,000 protesters to march on the first day of the Republican National Convention one month from today. The march will begin in a park outside the area Tampa officials have established for parades.

A temporary ordinance approved by Tampa City Council establishes a parade route for large groups who want to march through the streets of Tampa. Jared Hamil is an organizer with the Coalition to March on the RNC. He said the group will use the parade route for their march, but it will begin about seven tenths of a mile away which could present problems with police.

“We’ve had meetings and meetings with the city and so far we’re hoping that they can really show a sign of commitment because as of now, with only a month left until the actual day, they haven’t really done so.”

The parade route runs through an industrial area of downtown that some protesters say isn’t a good place to march. The route ends three blocks away from the Tampa Bay Times forum. But the Coalition to March on the RNC will be gathering at Perry Harvey Sr. Park on Orange Avenue. Corey Uhl, a supporter of the group and member of Students for a Democratic Society said they chose that location because it was the closest park available that was big enough to accommodate 5,000 people.

“We’re going to have a stage and then we’re also going to have tents set up where various groups will pass out their literature and other things – sign people up for their mailing lists, things of that nature.”

The march is scheduled for August 27th at 10 a.m. Fernando Figueroa is an organizer for the march. He said the coalition has already received confirmation from groups all over the country who are planning to travel to Tampa. Figueroa added activists from across the state will also make their way to the area for the march.

“We’ve contacted the Jacksonville CLC which has promised to send down two bus loads of trade unionists to march with us, to speak at our march and to let America know that the voice of working families is opposed to the Republicans and both parties of the 1%. We’ve contacted student groups in Tallahassee, as far as Pensacola, Miami and they are all going to be here on August 27th to march with us.”

Jared Hamil, organizer for the Coalition to March on the RNC, said the thousands of activists from all different party affiliations have five specific demands.

“And together we’ll demand good jobs, healthcare, affordable education, equality and peace. Only through unity is there strength and with that we will be successful in combating the Republican agenda and the one percent agenda and bring a true people’s agenda.”

Because the group is taking issue with a variety of topics, they are reaching a large number of people. Jacky Cruz is one of them. She is an undocumented immigrant who has lived in Florida almost her whole life, but she doesn’t get to enjoy even the some of the freedoms American citizens have.

“You know I’m unable to obtain a driver’s license so I can’t really legally drive in the state of Florida which means I can’t get to work, I can’t get to school, just everything. I’m not legally allowed to work either so how am I supposed to pay for school. I can’t get healthcare so I haven’t gone to see a doctor in as long as I can remember ‘cause I can’t afford it.”

The Obama administration has pushed immigration policies like the DREAM Act that would ease up on undocumented people who were brought to the U.S. as young children. But even though many of the issues the Coalition to March on the RNC is protesting at the convention correlate to priorities of Democrats, Corey Uhl from Students for a Democratic Society said the march isn’t a partisan effort.

“We opposed both the parties of the one percent and we actually endorsed March on Wall Street South which is the Coalition to March on the DNC and they’ve also endorsed us.”

Organizing so many people in one place isn’t cheap. The 5,000 expected protesters are each responsible for their own sleeping arrangements. But even though organizers for the Coalition to March on the RNC like Fernando Figueroa can’t find accommodations for everyone, they have been trying to plan some financial relief.

“We’ve worked with a lot of groups with setting up fundraising events in their own town. I can’t tell you the week before how many groups were talking about having some kind of benefit concert or a paid dinner to raise funds and generate travel money, etc.”

The group only has plans for the first day of the convention, but organizers said many of the protesters will stay for the week and participate in demonstrations with other groups.

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