The Republican Convention in Tampa is only a few weeks away. The Occupy movement seems to be missing in action or washing their socks, but other activists are still preparing to disrupt the convention. Teamsters, Welfare Rights groups, “Graduate Assistant” coalitions, the ‘new SDS’ and coalitions of subsidized professional agitators such as the Committee to Stop FBI Repression are making plans to descend on Tampa.
Last month, these activists used the taxpayer-funded facilities of the University of South Florida to plan their attack. Why did USF President Judy Genshaft allow our property to be used by a bunch of radicals who are openly planning to disrupt an important political event and violate the speech and participation rights of ordinary Americans?
Here is a description of the protest planning that took place on taxpayer-funded property:
About 50 people from across the country gathered here June 16, on the University of South Florida campus, for the Coalition to March on the Republican National Convention Organizers Conference. There were representatives from more than 30 labor unions, student organizations, anti-war groups and immigrant rights groups from Florida, Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina, including the Graduate Assistants United at the University of Florida, Students for a Democratic Society, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, the United National Anti War Coalition, and Students Working for Equal Rights.
The conference focused on reaching out to groups and organizations opposed to the Republican agenda, in order to bring them to Tampa for the march. . .
Marisol Marquez and Fernando Figueroa, two of the lead Florida organizers for the Coalition to March on the RNC, facilitated a full schedule of workshops and planning sessions aimed at building for the march on August 27, the first day of the convention.
“The Coalition to March on the RNC is a group effort, in every sense of the word,” said Figueroa. “We’re hosting this conference so all of our coalition partners – workers, students, immigrants, and others – can build for this historic march in August behind a unified message and a cohesive organizing strategy.”
Mick Kelly, an organizer of the massive protest at the 2008 Republican Convention urged an all out national mobilization for the opening day of the RNC. Joe Iosbaker, a key organizer of May’s NATO Summit protest, summed up the key lessons of the Chicago demonstration. Tracy Molm of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression noted that the government would work to derail the planned protest. Angel Buechner, of the Twin Cites based Welfare Rights Committee stated that low-income people would join the Coalition’s march. . .
[O]n Friday, July 27, coalition partners will hold demonstrations, pickets and protests outside of local Republican Party headquarters or corporate sponsors of the Convention.
“The city of Tampa insists on restricting our right to protest the agenda of the Republican Party,” said Richard Blake, a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 385 and organizer with the Coalition to March on the RNC. “
Aww, the Teamsters feel “silenced.” When did the Teamsters start channeling an Oprah audience? Jimmy Hoffa must be squirming in his grave, wherever that is.
Unfortunately, some city officials in Tampa Bay have been caving to the protesters and granting them special access to elected officials, access not available to the real residents who pay public officials’ salaries and foot the city’s bills.
Occupy Protesters are also coalitioning with the radical Food Not Bombs to protest the RNC. Food Not Bombs is a group that ought to be watched closely: they operate as a front group, using the excuse that they’re ”feeding vegan meals to the homeless” while they set up camps that serve as cover for radical activists. FNB is packing up their seitan snacks and heading to Tampa Bay. Don’t let the happy faces fool you:
Here is an interesting blog post from one local activist trying (and not exactly succeeding) to get involved in the “real” protest planning:
[D]elegations from St. Pete, Lakeland, Sarasota, Bradenton, and Tampa converged on Lykes Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa [June 4]. Occupy Tampa had felt a need to do some planning for the Republican National Convention (RNC) . . . So far, I know of Resist The RNC, Occupy The RNC, and March On The RNC, along with the official RNC itself. Within minutes of arriving at the Regional Gathering, I had gathered that although these separate groups are each coordinating strategy, tactics, and logistics for the RNC, they may not be coordinating with each other. And, at the moment, they are tight-lipped about their plans.
The activist writing this must not be not a member of the “in” group of radical protesters. Interesting that the activists in charge are keeping such a tight lock-down on their real plans, concealing things from other activists who are trying to get involved in their events. The blogger continues:
Upon our arrival, Food Not Bombs was on the scene serving a vegan lunch to all attendees. In Sarasota, the thoughtful Food Not Bombs crew has served the hungry during a number of the weekly Occupy rallies. I recognized Katie, who had been active with Occupy Tampa and is now volunteering with Food Not Bombs. I have met many people for whom the Occupy Movement has been a conduit, connecting their sense of injustice and disillusionment with a local activist group that stirs their passion. Like the Occupy Movement, Food Not Bombs is composed of volunteers who are dedicated to nonviolent, societal change. Like Occupy, each local group is autonomous. Like Occupy, there are no leaders and they involve everybody in the decision-making process. And like Occupy, Food Not Bombs supports protests organized by others. With that in mind, it is no surprise that they have decided to have an international convention in Tampa, during the week leading up to the RNC. Undoubtedly, there will be many more groups calling for a national march on the RNC.
Bull. Food Not Bombs is actually planning a pre-RNC invasion, starting August 20. They’re calling it VEGANPALOOZA, and it has nothing to do with really “feeding the poor.” Instead, it will enable FNB to establish camps throughout Tampa and refuse to leave while glomming attention from partisan, naive, or headline-hungry media types. And what happens when they refuse to stay inside the protest zones meticulously planned by the ACLU and Tampa government?
What, exactly, will happen with all that nice, friendly, egalitarian and inclusive “protest planning” being showered on the activists by our City Council? The protesters will ignore it, like they do at every event where city officials give them an inch — or a mile. It’s not about “free speech.” It’s about disrupting an actually free and peaceful gathering — the Republican National Convention.
The Tampa City Council is setting itself up as a pasty. They’re bending over backwards to please the ACLU and the National Lawyer’s Guild, as those groups act in bad faith with the city. Of court they’re being abetted in this by the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Times).
It’s a vegan-based recipe for disaster. Somebody in City Hall needs to remember who they really work for and start asking some hard questions about the deceptive tactics and “spontaneous” disruptions being planned by Food not Bombs and their peers.
The outsider-blogger continues:
I was not fully aware of the depth of activity nearby. Occupy Tampa is producing a TV show. Occupy Daytona has started a radio show. Occupy Tampa is starting a street theatre group. The OccupPlayers from Bradenton, who performed at the WSLR radio station in Sarasota a couple of months ago, is planning a performance in St. Pete and will make themselves available as requested by other locations. And for those holdouts who still like to read, there is an Occupied Tampa Tribune.
The General Assembly whipped through a number of proposals. All attained consensus, but one. The Tampa Region stands in solidarity with the student protesters in Quebec. The Tampa Region will hold a General Assembly at different locations, every two weeks, until the RNC. A most interesting proposal was brought forward to put out a National Call To Action Against Bain Capital. The actions would take place all over the country on the day Mitt Romney accepts the Republican presidential nomination. There is something almost romantic about this idea. Romney continues to receive a passive profit share and interest in Bain Capital investment funds. Bain Capital always made a profit even when the companies they bought went under, even when many workers lost their jobs, their pensions, and their healthcare. Such vulture capitalism is the poster child for what’s wrong with how our economic system functions. What better time to highlight these cold deficiencies than on the day of Romney’s acceptance speech.
A recurring concern voiced at the Gathering was dwindling participation. Leslie from Occupy Tampa was curious and concerned about attendance at other Occupations. A local religious leader made a plea for presenting a clear and constant message about the profound issues of economic inequality. He is hoping for a format that will draw people in and get them involved. Jason, who is from Tallahasse but has been staying with Occupy Tampa for the last month, threw out a concrete suggestion to the General Assembly. How about renting a truck, covering it with sheets, projecting messages onto it, and driving through Ybor City on a Friday night. Go to where the people are and make a bold statement. Leslie volunteered to coordinate outreach efforts to help bring more people out to participate.
Soon after the General Assembly came to a close, folks made signs and marched around downtown in solidarity with the Quebec students. Students there had called for a tuition freeze. Nightly protests consisted of clanging noisy pots and pans in the streets. The students wore red felt squares to symbolize being financially in the red, crushed by debt. In Canada, as in the United States, tuition hikes are leading to increasing student debt. Even after almost 100 nights of protest, the students hadn’t garnered much community support. But, when the government passed emergency legislation to limit students’ right to assemble and protest, thousands of community members flooded the streets in support. As I understand it, the strike by the Quebec students is the longest and largest student protest in Canadian history. And yet their debt is small potatoes when compared with the $1 trillion in debt taken on by college students in the United States. In addition to marching in solidarity with Quebec students, folks here are motivated by the spiraling student debt in the United States. A jubilant procession from the Tampa Regional Gathering marched through downtown, banging pots and pans and wearing red felt squares.
Oh yeah. And possibly doing this.
Welcome to Tampa, kiddies. It’s going to hot in those balaclavas, though:
I previously wrote about what is coming to Tampa, here. In upcoming weeks I will detail the ways some elected officials are selling us out to the protesters. Meanwhile, it’s time to send the city a polite but firm message: we don’t want to have to pay for anti-social radicals to have air-conditioned public facilities to plan their attack on the city.
We’re already paying enough, getting ready to prevent them from causing chaos in the street — or worse. And why should we have to pay for this? Why aren’t the groups listed above being sent the bill?