How will Tampa police handle Republican National Convention protests?
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07/29/11 Kate Bradshaw
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Former Tampa City Council member John Dingfelder is with the ACLU of Florida.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF (Dec. 2008)

In fewer than thirteen months, Downtown Tampa will be swarming with protesters, politicos, and news teams from across the country who will be in town for the Republican National Convention. Police are already preparing for the onslaught – and so are civil liberties advocates.

The RNC has been heralded as an economic boon to any city it comes to, and Tampa is certainly no different. The question is, will the convention also leave in its wake the usual legacy of crackdowns on protesters and pricey lawsuits? Mark Hamlin, Assistant Chief of Police with the Tampa Police Department said they’re preparing for the worst, but that’s pretty much what police are supposed to do when tens of thousands of people are expected to descend upon the city.

“We are prepared for a civil unrest situation. We trained for that, we have equipment for that, we have certain weapons for that, and we have chemicals for that.”

The host of the 2004 RNC, New York City has handed out at least $600,000 in settlements to protesters who were detained illegally. Hamlin said the department will do its best to bring in only those who actually break the law.

Law enforcement at the event will consist of local, state and federal entities, with the Secret Service at the top of the chain of command. Hamlin said while the police don’t want to arrest those who aren’t causing any trouble, there’s still the chance that someone may get hauled in without breaking the law, because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He said the police can un-arrest those who have been detained without doing anything, and that their first priority is public safety.

John Dingfelder, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union and former Tampa city Council Member, said there are three types of people who usually congregate outside a political convention venue.

The organization has been working with the city and Tampa Police to develop a strategy to help officers balance public safety with protecting the First Amendment rights of protesters. Dingfelder said the ACLU advocates what he calls a “catch and release” system if officers see a need to arrest bystanders,

Dingfelder said the ACLU respects the role of police, and recognizes their mission of keeping the peace…

…but the ACLU also hopes the police minimize potential for collateral damage.

The RNC happens from August 27 to August 30 in 2012. Earlier this month, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn asked the federal government for $50 million to help cover security costs for the Republican’s convention. Buckhorn said he was not available for an interview.

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Comments

Cost of RNC Security

Why is the federal government paying for security at the RNC and DNC conventions? Neither of these are governmental agencies. They are political party conventions with a multitude of wealthy donors adn who supposedly bring millions of dollars to local areas, if you believe the suspect numbers. The security should be reimbursed by the parties, not tax dollars.

It could be worse...

Ohhh… I’m pretty sure Tampa will handle the protests just fine. But… any of you folks planning to go to Charlotte… you need to remember that some of those NC boys can’t tell the difference between the DNC and the CWP!!! Who was the genius that scheduled that convention???

As usual . . .

. . . GP adds in his $0.02 of idiocy . . . AUGUST 2012 - the RNC in TAMPA - when STUPIDITY meets HUMIDITY . . . Uggghh! .... so, the TPD says, "they're preparing for the worst"?!?!?!? Well, that's just the kind of short-sighted and wrong-minded public service that they're most likely to provide us with then. Maybe if the TPD's intent and actions were to protect citizens' rights, free speech and legal public gathering, instead of the expected bullying of the masses and thuggery for the rich, then perhaps the so-called public representatives attending the convention would get the message that the people of this community aren't happy about the current state of affairs. Remember, "government of the people, by the people, for the people"? Not in my lifetime (so far). Come on folks, We need to get a voice and get active to make a BETTER world possible. Think to the future . . . this failed model of American corporate-owned politics, disastrous capitalist-economics and War-On-The-World(TM) government can't continue. We can make a difference. Power to the People.

Do I offend???

Dude… surely you don’t have a problem with “free speech zones”!!! President Obama uses them all the time… and obviously takes them very seriously!!! www.statesman.com/blogs/content/shared-gen/blogs/austin/blotter/entries/2010/08/10/obama_protesters_arrested_afte.html And… maybe if it weren’t for people like Sara Jane Moore, Mehmet Ali Ağca and Joseph Paul Franklin… we wouldn’t need free speech zones!!! As for the RNC coming here and getting the message… brother… they’re coming here to GIVE a message!!! Because like you… they too aren't happy about the current state of affairs!!! By-the-way… the War-On-The-World(TM)??? The only thing I could find was books or games by that title… and all were being SOLD on the FREE MARKET at CAPITALISTIC prices… (and I’m the idiot)!!! Oh yeah… right arm and shower on the sheeple!!!