Occupy Tampa lawyers challenging arrests inside parks at night; during RNC Buckhorn proposes closing parks at 3 a.m.
Today Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced a proposal for a temporary ordinance during the week of the Republican National Convention in August. Buckhorn proposes what the city is calling a "Clean Zone" that will stretch from Rome Avenue to 22nd Street or Channelside Drive and from Columbus Drive to the water, including Harbor Island and Davis Islands. Any gathering of more than 50 people inside the Clean Zone requires a $50 Public Gathering Permit, which is good for 60 minutes. People within the Clean Zone will not be allowed to wear masks. There will also be a free-speech zone, that the city calls a â€œPublic Viewing Area.â€ In a statement the city promises it will be â€œwhere protestors can be closest to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and the delegates.â€ Gas masks are not allowed in the Public Viewing Area. The city will also designate an â€œofficial Parade Route.â€ Next Thursday, April 5, Tampa City Council will hear the proposal.
Mayor Buckhorn did not respond to numerous interview requests before air time.*
Penalties for violating the temporary ordinance are a fine up to $500 and / or a prison term up to 60 days.
Inside the proposed Clean Zone, all city parks will close at 3 a.m., which could lead to confrontations between the police and protesters intent on camping overnight. Itâ€™s a scene that played itself out a number of times over the last six months with Occupy Tampa, especially while they were occupying a sidewalk outside downtownâ€™s Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
On yesterdayâ€™s newscast we heard from lawyers for Occupy Tampa members who say a ruling by a Hillsborough County Circuit judge Monday could lead to Tampa Police no longer charging people with a crime for placing items on sidewalks. Yesterday I interviewed Marc Plotnick and Paul Horning who are representing several Occupy Tampa members and are challenging trespassing arrests that happened in city parks at night.
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*We spoke with Mayor Buckhorn after the newscast & will air the interview Thursday at 4 p.m.