Police at the RNC in 2008, credit Andrew Ciscel
The Tampa, Florida City Council has approved new rules to restrict political protest in opposition to the 2012 Republican National Convention. The New York Times reports:
In May the city adopted a temporary ordinance that will clamp down on protests in dozens of blocks near the Tampa Convention Center. Among other things, the ordinance requires a permit for groups of 50 or more to gather in parks; sets a limit of 90 minutes on parades; and bans an array of items, including glass bottles, aerosol cans and pieces of rope longer than six feet. It also provided for an official parade route for protesters along with viewing areas.
During public debates, some Tampa residents and City Council members opposed the rules, calling them excessive. Others complained that while the ordinance outlawed water pistols, actual pistols were allowed for those with permits to carry a concealed weapon. Although Tampa’s mayor, Bob Buckhorn, had asked the state’s governor, Rick Scott, to ban firearms during the convention, the governor has refused.
The Tampa government has paid $57,000 to sublease a lot, which will be open to protesters 24 hours a day, a few hundred feet from the convention center. About half of a $50 million federal security grant has been allocated to pay 1,000 local officers and 3,000 officers from other cities to police the protests. The city has also bought gas masks for officers and installed security cameras in downtown Tampa.