Occupy Tampa takes to the Hillsborough River to build community and remind Tampa they're still here
Occupy Tampa has been in and out of the spotlight since relocating to West Tampa in December. Members gathered to Occupy the Hillsborough River on Saturday, to have fun and to remind Tampa they are still here.
Seven people, most from Occupy Tampa, put their kayaks in the water just north of downtown Tampa while a police boat circled the area. Although there was no confrontation, three police boats stayed close during the journey. The group paddled south past Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and back. Jeff Haynes is a hobby kayaker and put together the event.
âWe were at Curtis Hixon for several months, and I kept looking at the river and realizing I had kayaked right there many times andâ¦ why are we not occupying the river? And there are lots of roads and everybody can see us. We left Curtis Hixon several months ago, more or less, people think weâve disappeared.â
Many of the protesters brought their own kayaks, including Susie Shannon. She said the event was as much social as it was a protest. She said most of what Occupy Tampa represents is not about politics.
âUm, I think that weâre doing amazing, good work. A lot of it is under the radar. A lot of it is not overtly political. But itâs about world building. Itâs about community building.â
The group spent some time debating and discussing community issues, including education and unemployment. Elizabeth Toms is a full time student at the University of South Florida and brought snacks.
âUm, Iâm also a member of Food Not Bombs and we serve every Saturday and typically at Voice of Freedom Parkâbecause itâs a private parkâwe would get arrested if we were in a public park. And we pretty much serve free food to whoeverâs around. Today we have cinnamony apples that my friend made, and we also have a black bean spread sandwiches.â
Many of the waterways leading to downtown Tampa, will be closed during the upcoming Republican National Convention. Earlier this month an Occupy Tampa general assembly decided it will not protest inside a designated Event Zone. Toms said no concrete plans have been decided on.
âI have mixed feelings, cause like I am totally you knowâam down with where theyâre coming from. Itâs kind of like itâs a dog and pony show, weâre not going to be corralled into this Event Zone, weâre going to do our own thing, hold our own counter convention, tons of ideas are being thrown out. Yea weâll protestâyou knowâbut in a different fashion, outside the Event Zone.â
Susie Shannon said the future of the Occupy movement depends on the people involved.
âIt has so far grown very organically, to try to guess whatâs going to happen next, is probably just going to be a huge mistake. Because it really does, what it does, according to the people that are participating, the immediate need, immediate circumstances. So, it is at base, an anarchistic movement, which really is about the structures of power being inadequate and oppressive.â
Occupy Tampaâs next protest is planned for tomorrow, during the JP Morgan Chase shareholder meeting at 10:30 a.m. in East Tampa.comments powered by Disqus