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Police free protesters who locked themselves to PVC pipe at TECO plant

APOLLO BEACH — In a move meant to protest Tampa Electric Company's "dirty money," given to Republicans, several protesters locked themselves to pieces of PVC pipe at the company's east Hillsborough power plant.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies had to saw them free. Three were lying on the ground surrounded by deputies, blocking the entrance to the plant, as protesters chanted from the sidelines.

A couple more were locked up somewhere else on the property, and one more person jumped on top of a truck carrying hazardous materials, said Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee.

But even this ended peacefully.

The deputies worked out a deal with the protesters: if everyone leaves the area, nobody gets arrested.

"The decision was based on these things: no property damage, no one was injured and everybody cooperated," Gee said.

It was the most significant bit of action the protest circuit has seen all day, the last day of the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

More than 100 members and supporters of Occupy Tampa shifted their efforts to the power plant from downtown earlier this afternoon, on a couple buses.

It wasn't an easy journey.

After the half-hour bus ride, Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies stopped the buses at a gas station about a mile away from the plant, at Big Bend Road and U.S. Highway 41. So the protesters walked, some singing "We're not gonna take it."

Some people wondered aloud what they were doing there.

"This is both the right-wing and left-wing agenda," someone answered with little explanation.

Justin George can be reached at jgeorge@tampabay.com

Police free protesters who locked themselves to PVC pipe at TECO plant 08/30/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 30, 2012 5:03pm]

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