Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Sue Carlton: Goodbye, Occupy

Witnessing what looked to be Occupy Tampa's last stand this week was like saying goodbye to a sweet but unfocused young nephew who has been staying with you awhile. (Oh, you still here?)

Maybe like me, you had hopes for this pie-in-the-sky idea that people joined together to protest America's engorged and entitled 1 percent could make us pay attention to them. And maybe we did, for a minute.

Formed in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, Tampa's early version had malcontents of all stripes. I met former hippies with good jobs, angry college students, and kids with nowhere to go but something to say. Their persistent presence by Curtis Hixon Park on one of downtown's busiest streets could have had people thinking: There really is a lot of discontent out there, and it doesn't seem to be going away.

But then it did go away.

Worn down by dozens of trespassing arrests, Occupiers made their worst move, literally: They hauled camp off to a tiny neighborhood park called Voice of Freedom in West Tampa. It was generously offered by the property owner, well-known strip club businessman Joe Redner. But there they had zero visibility. And this vague idea that they would trek downtown every day never quite happened. Their numbers seemed to dwindle, as did their voice,

Still, there were moments.

At a swanky Mitt Romney fundraiser at the Tampa Museum of Art, infiltrating protesters dressed in pearls and suits registered their objections to what they called Wall Street bankrolling his campaign. Occupiers threw a glitter bomb — harmless handfuls of glitter — at Rick Santorum at a speech in Lake County to protest his stance on gay rights. They made their presence known when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker attended an event at the Tampa Theatre.

It was all supposed to come together when 15,000 protesters filled the streets and joined voices for the big Republican National Convention. Blame a passing hurricane, or just the mind-numbing heat, but those numbers never materialized.

This week at a sad, sparsely attended Occupy Tampa anniversary "event" downtown, an affable guy named John Thomas agreed somewhat about a lack of focus. But he insisted Occupy lives on.

"The conversation's still going," he said. There is talk of the effort pushing on online and of helping the homeless. And like when that nephew talks of plans for a grand future, you can only hope some of it actually happens.

Because I like the idea of dissent, and that we still can, I regularly went by Voice of Freedom Park, or as I thought of it, Occupy Phase II. When it rained, you'd find them diehard, determined and hunkered down by the dozens in makeshift tents on hard concrete. In the sun they planted potatoes or scrawled signs demanding justice for Trayvon or speaking up against hate. More and more homeless people seemed to be there. Neighbors were not pleased. Police watched. City Council member Frank Reddick observed that on a hot day, "it smells like a skunk out there."

No doubt, Occupiers were gritty. No doubt they were without clear, articulated purpose, not to mention solution. But for a while, you could not deny this place was alive with … something.

This week, the small city park was empty, with no sign of protest, or of hope. It was like they were never here at all.

Comments
Rays journal: 3 batters, 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 3 batters, 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox poised to become Tampa Bay’s highest NBA draft pick

Kevin Knox Sr. was watching the NFL draft 24 years ago when the phone rang. Buffalo coach Marv Levy was on the other line."Marv said they were taking me," said Knox Sr., a standout receiver at FSU.Soon after, Knox Sr. saw his name scroll across ESPN'...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Lightning’s Victor Hedman wins NHL’s Norris Trophy

Victor Hedman, a relentless part of the Lightning's push to the Eastern Conference final last season, was honored Wednesday night with the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL's top defenseman."To the Lightning organization, Mr. Jeff Vinik, Steve Yzerman ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Report: Bucs QB Jameis Winston bracing for suspension from NFL

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston could be suspended for up to three games  next season following the league's investigation into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016, a Tallahassee radio station reported.Jeff Cameron, a&#...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Passengers on fatal Southwest flight sue airline and manufacturers of plane and engine

Eight passengers who were aboard a Southwest Airlines flight that was forced to make an emergency landing in Philadelphia after one of its engines blew apart filed suit Wednesday against the airline, Boeing and the companies that manufactured the eng...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Former employee sued by Tesla says he was a whistleblower

Tesla sued a former employee Wednesday, accusing the man of hacking the automaker’s computer systems and stealing company secrets, shedding light on what chief Elon Musk had suggested was the work of a secretive internal saboteur.But the employee, Ma...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

Police: Couple leased someone else’s home to 15 families at same time

LARGO — Vanessa Rodriguez thought she found the right house for her three kids, in the right neighborhood, for the right rent. She signed the lease for April 30, sent a $2,300 money order and planned to move in June 1.Then the delays started. She sai...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

Clearwater wants $40 million from the county for a stadium. But there’s not $40 million to give.

CLEARWATER —The city’s proposed $79.7 million overhaul of the Philadelphia Phillies’ spring training facilities depends on getting $40 million in bed taxes from Pinellas County.But records show even if county officials wanted to bankroll the Phillies...
Updated: 4 hours ago