Monday, December 18, 2017
Politics

ACLU to hold online seminar on RNC protest ground rules

TAMPA — With the Republican National Convention less than seven weeks away, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is holding a "Know Your Rights" webinar Tuesday night.

The panel for the online discussion is scheduled to include Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, Assistant Chief John Bennett, City Attorney James Shimberg Jr. and Hillsborough County public defenders Chris Watson, Rocky Brancato and Shawn Goforth.

In April, a similar ACLU forum drew about 200 people to the Stetson University College of Law in Tampa.

Since then, Tampa officials have:

• Passed an "Event Zone" ordinance that sets rules for and bans certain items in an area that covers downtown north to Interstate 275 and Interstate 4, plus Ybor City, the northern part of Harbour Island and an area across the Hillsborough River that includes the University of Tampa.

• Set an official parade route along Washington Street, Whiting Street and Nebraska Avenue and begun booking groups into 90-minute time slots on the route.

• Started reserving city parks for groups that want to hold gatherings ranging from union rallies to prayer vigils.

• Designated three "public viewing areas" that will allow demonstrators to gather within sight of the Tampa Bay Times Forum 24 hours a day, no permit or reservation required.

• Budgeted $24.85 million to cover the personnel costs of Tampa police and an estimated 3,000 or more officers being brought in from 63 other agencies from around the Tampa Bay area and across Florida.

Holding this forum online is aimed at not only allowing officials to provide updates on convention preparations, but letting more people to participate.

"It opens it up to folks who are coming in from out of state," said Joyce Hamilton Henry, the director of the ACLU's mid-Florida office.

Scheduled for Aug. 27-30, the convention is expected to draw up to 15,000 journalists from around the world and perhaps an equal number of demonstrators.

Tuesday's webinar is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and last for about 90 minutes. To follow online, go to www.join.me/acluflorida. To submit a question before or during the event, email [email protected] Henry said questions that are not addressed during the event will be forwarded to the agencies involved for follow-up.

The ACLU plans to hold another forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at the University of Tampa's Reeves Theater. It will be free and open to the public and is scheduled to feature Shimberg, Bennett, Watson and Stetson University College of Law associate professor Louis J. Virelli III.

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