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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Protester who interrupted Paul Ryan's speech tells her tale



Laura Mills nearly blew it.

She is 21, from Washington D.C., and a member of the activist group Code Pink. Today, however, she is much better known as the woman who interrupted Paul Ryan’s speech at the Republican National Convention and befuddled viewers worldwide. But her big moment almost didn’t happen.

She was hanging outside the Tampa Bay Times Forum Wednesday when a group of angry Ron Paul supporters stormed out. She and a fellow Code Pinker, Ann Wright, asked for their credentials. The delegates obliged.

“I didn’t have to do anything crazy to get in,” said Mills, wearing one of the group’s infamous vagina costumes outside a Tampa Hooters Thursday afternoon.

Credential in hand, Mills walked inside the building and into the security area. When she raised up her arms to be searched, her protest sash fell out. She wouldn’t say where it was hidden: “That’s our trick of the trade."

Surely, Millls thought, she would be caught. No one noticed.

“I was trying,” she said, “not to make eye contact with any of them.”

She talked her way into one of the lower levels by insisting that Wright was her grandmother and wanted to sit close to the stage. Another guard, who she described as quite friendly, escorted them to a pair of seats.

About eight minutes into Ryan’s speech, the two stood up, started screaming and Mills revealed her sash: "Vagina — Can't Say it, Don't Legislate it."

They were rushed from the building seconds later. On her way out, Mills said, she apologized to the guard.

“I stopped for a second to say, ‘I’m sorry I lied to you.’”

-- John Woodrow Cox, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 7:48pm]


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