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Code Pink protesters asked to leave Straz Center

TAMPA — Police asked about a dozen Code Pink protesters to leave the Straz Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday because they were trespassing on private property.

The protesters, wearing their usual attire in all shades of pink, stood at one of the entrances with signs that read "Arrest Condi" and "Condi = war criminal."

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, said they were protesting against former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice because she agreed to send troops to Iraq. The protesters picked the Straz as their location because they believed Rice was scheduled to speak at the arts center Tuesday.

They held blankets with blotches of red paint — to represent blood — and waved handcuffs in the air.

But within minutes, dozens of police officers, on foot and on bicycles, arrived at the Straz. One officer approached Benjamin and asked her to leave. Several journalists swarmed around them with note pads and cameras.

Lorrin Shepard, the center's chief operating manager, also arrived and asked Benjamin and the others to leave.

"There are other events going on here," he said. "You are not allowing me to conduct my normal business, so I need to ask you to leave now."

They left the property. Benjamin later said the officer who spoke to her was "very nice, very accommodating." Police wrote down some of their names.

Jodie Evans, co-founder of Code Pink, refused to show her ID to police. "There is nothing he could do," she said. "He didn't have any right."

Code Pink protesters asked to leave Straz Center 08/28/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 2:24pm]
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