Tampa demonstrators shut down streets in solidarity with Ferguson protests

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On Friday night in Tampa about 150 Ferguson solidarity protesters shut down streets and bridges in and around downtown and even took their message against police violence to a city-sponsored Christmas celebration in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

In the streets they chanted things like “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” “Back Lives Matter,” and “I Can’t Breathe.”

After an hour of speeches and chanting at Gaslight Square Park near police headquarters, demonstrators marched west on Kennedy Boulevard around cars and through intersections. Police on bicycles and horses blocked traffic while the rally migrated to the Kennedy Bridge over the Hillsborough River, where protesters stopped and chanted for several minutes. Later they continued past the University of Tampa before doubling back toward Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

One person with a very personal reason for marching is Natasha Clemens from Sarasota. Her son was killed by Sheriff’s deputies. She wasn’t able to go into too many details because the case isn’t yet resolved.

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When the demonstration reached Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, it was already crowded with people gathered for a Christmas concert and tree-lighting ceremony. They stood amidst the crowd for fifteen minutes, chanting and holding signs, even as the Christmas music and fake snow continued.

Two bystanders near where WMNF was recording let into a profanity-laced tirade against the demonstrators. One suggests that the protesters should go to jail. Listen carefully; it may be difficult to hear what they’re saying over the sound of the helicopter hovering over the demonstration and the band beginning to play Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

[note, this video contains the UNEDITED audio!!]

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To find out why they were upset, WMNF attempted to interview one person who yelled at the protesters, but he refused to be interviewed. Chrisley Carpio is a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, one of the groups that organized the rally. She disagrees that bringing their message to the city’s tree-lighting ceremony was crass or insensitive.

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A demonstration against police violence is planned for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Carter G. Woodson Museum. 2240 9th Avenue South in St. Petersburg.

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