Group from Occupy Tampa plans 5-day presence near downtown Bank of America

05/11/12 Seán Kinane
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In December, Occupy Tampa moved its encampment from a downtown sidewalk to a private park in West Tampa. In the months since, they’ve had short re-occupations of downtown and a group is planning another one to increase visibility.

Beginning May 23 Tim Sommers is leading a group on a five-day occupation in the middle of Tampa’s downtown business district.

Sommers says they plan to continuously occupy a sidewalk in front of Bank of America, but if the width of the sidewalk there prohibits sleeping, they'll sleep along Ashley Drive in front of Curtis-Hixon Waterfront Park.

“Tell our listeners what’s going to be happening and when. What are you going to be doing and when?”

“Back In October we had started a very long, extensive 24/7 presence down near Curtis-Hixon Waterfront on the sidewalk. We had a lot of public support back then and we just want to refresh that support and let them know so that people can see what we’re still doing. With the community gardens and the different things we’ve accomplished, it’s a call out to the other organizations in the area to help maintain that presence. There are a lot of problems that we’re facing still.”

“You were in front of Curtis-Hixon and Ashley Drive but there’s a lot of construction down there now, are you going to be in the same location?”

“We’re actually going to be in front of the Bank of America for 5 days 24/7. It’s going to be May 23rd to the 28th. We’re going to stay there 24/7 and if we have to we can always still go sleep on the sidewalk over at Curtis-Hixon. That’s still open, but we plan on staying at Bank of America as long as we don’t run into interference.”

“In the fall the sidewalk was kind of a place were you and the police agreed upon a place where the occupiers could sleep but there was still harassment and there were even some arrests on that sidewalk. Do you think that there will be harassment or arrests this time?”

“Well with Occupy you always risk harassment but I don’t think we risk arrests this time only because we’ve gone through the court cases and they’ve just dropped all of them because they said that people aren’t objects and you can’t remove a person. They don’t count as an object on the sidewalk so they don’t really have grounds to arrest us. Especially on Curtis-Hixon, it’s a wide enough sidewalk to where we don’t impede the sidewalk. At the Bank of America sidewalk it may not be wide enough so we have to see what we can get away with there but we plan on meeting accordingly and staying out of trouble.”

“If people want to find out more information or join you where should they go to get more information?”

“Well we have a Facebook event page. Its call the 5-Day Protest at Curtis-Hixon and sidewalk. You can look it up on Facebook and you can look up Occupy Tampa. I’m going to get a pass to the journal assembly so they can sign it so I’m sure they’ll have the event there as well.”

“And do you think there’s going to be, how many people?”

“This morning when I checked we had about 13 people that were going to be there 24/7 for all 5 days and we had around 20 people that were going to be there as often as possible.”

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