Tampa designates Republican Convention "public viewing area" and 11-block official parade route listen06/26/12 Seán Kinane
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Tuesday the City of Tampa announced its official parade route and "public viewing area" for August's Republican National Convention, and activists like Becky Rubright are upset.
The official parade route begins at the intersection of N Brush Street and E Washington Street. Protesters can march about four blocks down Washington, then turn left on Morgan Street for a block before another left on E Whiting Street. After three more blocks, marchers will turn left on Nebraska Avenue for the final two blocks before ending at Walton Street where one of the "public viewing areas" begins. Rubright is concerned marchers will be hidden from the public.
The parade route runs about 11 blocks in all and never comes closer than three blocks from the site of the convention, the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Rubright predicts activists will instead use sidewalks in other parts of town.
The city has called its designated protest area a "public viewing area." At previous conventions it has been called a "free speech zone." It's broken up into two areas located between the Forum and most of the parade route. The largest section begins at the end of the parade route and comes as close as about a block and a half to the Forum. The other is underneath the Selmon Expressway.
The city's Event Zone does not place limits on time or number of people participating in protests in the public viewing area.
Here's the press release from the City of Tampa
City of Tampa Announces Public Viewing Areas and Official Parade Route for the RNC
Tampa, Fla. (June 26, 2012) – The City of Tampa announced the official parade route and public viewing areas for demonstrations during the Republican National Convention.
The official parade route runs down Washington Street, turning south at Morgan Street, east on Whiting Street and then south along S. Nebraska Avenue.
The goal of the parade route is to minimize disruption to traffic in downtown while providing space for demonstrations. However, groups may hold demonstrations and march in other public areas, such as sidewalks in downtown.
There will be two public viewing areas available that are linked by S. Nebraska Avenue. There is viewing area under the Leroy Selmon Crosstown Expressway along Jefferson Street and one available along S. Nebraska Avenue up to Brorein Street.
In total, the public viewing areas equate to over seven acres. Comparatively, the public viewing area in Denver equaled just over one acre, and the area in Minneapolis equaled to about four acres.
The public viewing area is where protestors can be within sight and sound of the Republican national Convention, which will be at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Along S. Nebraska Avenue and Walton Street, the City of Tampa will provide a stage as well as a sound system for participants.
In order to provide the space for the public viewing areas, the City of Tampa has leased several parking lots. The lots under the Leroy Selmon Crosstown Expressway along Jefferson Street have already been leased and approved by Tampa City Council. The agreements for the lots along S. Nebraska Avenue and E. Cumberland Avenue will go before City Council for approval. The leases will cost $57,500, and the City of Tampa expects to be reimbursed by the Department of Justice security grant.