Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lykes Gaslight Square is hot property for RNC protest groups

TAMPA — City Hall received a last-minute flurry of applications Monday for demonstration spots outside the Republican National Convention, with six groups wanting to reserve Lykes Gaslight Square Park on the RNC's first day.

Depending on who gets the reservation, Lykes Gaslight Square could see a union rally, a prayer vigil, an ice sculpture carved into a political message or a promotional event for Humana health insurance.

To resolve conflicts for parks with more than one request for the same day, city officials plan to hold a lottery in City Council chambers on Friday.

In all, 10 groups have put in bids for about 30 different slots to march, demonstrate or hold rallies during the Aug. 27-30 convention. Their names alone suggest agendas that span the political spectrum: AFL-CIO. Pray Tampa Bay. Planned Parenthood. Coptic Christians Against Persecution. Florida Consumer Action Network.

"What we're hoping to do is have prayer all day long," said Jesten Peters of Pray Tampa Bay, which would bring ministers and groups from St. Petersburg, Bradenton and Citrus County to pray for the city and the convention. Peters said the group doesn't have a partisan or political agenda — "other than we would like God back in our country again" — and will look at another park if it doesn't win the reservation in the lottery.

Other groups are even more diverse than the name on the application suggests.

The Florida Consumer Action Network (FCAN) filed a permit request for the second day of the convention on behalf of immigrant, Hispanic and other groups organizing a "March Against Voter Suppression."

Organizers looked at Lykes Gaslight Square, but decided that Centennial Park in Ybor City reflects Tampa's strong immigrant history, FCAN community organizer Kelly Benjamin said. He said the goal will be to highlight Republican efforts, past and present, to suppress the votes of groups that tend not to support the party.

"This isn't just something new that Gov. Rick Scott came up with," Benjamin said. "We're hoping (for) a few thousand. I know that people are planning to come from all over the state of Florida."

Two groups want to reserve Lykes Gaslight Square all four days of the convention. One is Euro RSCG Impact, a for-profit marketing company with headquarters in Chicago that helps corporations build their brands. Its application says it's working with Humana and the company's Freewheelin health and wellness program. The second is Doctors for America, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan group of doctors and medical students who advocate for universal access to affordable, high-quality health care.

Planned Parenthood initially submitted an application for Plant Park at the University of Tampa, which is not available, but has since set its sights on either Centennial Park or Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park. That wasn't unusual. Several groups submitted applications for different parks on the same day in the apparent hope that they could get a second choice if the first did not come through.

Although Monday was the deadline for groups that want to be eligible for Friday's lottery, Tampa officials say they will continue to accept applications first-come, first-served as long as they have open slots at a dozen different parks both inside and outside downtown. "I anticipate that the process will continue on through the summer," City Attorney James Shimberg Jr. said.

Richard Danielson can be reached at or (813) 226-3403.


The Freewheelin health and wellness program at the Republican National Convention will not have a bike-sharing component. Articles published this week about events planned during the convention mischaracterized the program.


On the Web

For information on city permits for events during the Republican National Convention, go to

Lykes Gaslight Square is hot property for RNC protest groups 06/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 14, 2012 3:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida GDP growth in first quarter 2017 ranks 21st among states, still outpacing U.S.

    Economic Development

    Florida's gross domestic product or GDP rose 1.4 percent in the first quarter, slightly faster than the nation's growth of 1.2 percent and placing Florida 21st among the states for growth rates, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

    Not too hot. Not too cold.

    These Jackson Square Townhomes began hitting the west Hillsborough County market late last year and continued to be sold into the first quarter of 2017. The real estate sector was the biggest driver of Florida's gross domestic product, which rose 1.4 percent in the first quartrer of 2017.  [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. Coming to Netflix in August: 'The Defenders,' 'Death Note' and more

    Krysten Ritter, Finn Jones, Charlie Cox and Mike Colter in Marvel's The Defenders.
  3. Report: $36 million worth of guns stolen in Florida in four years

    Public Safety

    An estimated $36 million worth of guns was stolen in Florida from 2012 to 2015, according to an analysis released this week by the Center for American Progress.

    Broken glass litters the floor of Tampa Arms Co. after thieves drove a pickup  through the front of the gun store and stole more than 40 weapons, including handguns and semiautomatic rifles. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  4. A 94-year-old's tricycle was stolen and St. Petersburg police need help finding it (w/video)


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police are working to unite a 94-year-old man with his motorized tricycle that was stolen outside of a CVS.

    Police are working to unite a 94-year-old man with his motorized tricycle that was stolen outside of a CVS. Richard Griffin used the bike as his main means of transportation, police said, and doesn't have the $2,700 he'd need to replace it. Police released surveillance video of the theft on July 26, 2017,  a week after a man made off with the bike, hoping it might help them find the trike's captor. [Photo from video]
  5. Whale shark captured on video by diver near Naples


    A man scuba diving near Naples captured a giant whale shark on video, a rare treat in these waters.

    A man diving near Naples took video of this giant whale shark.