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Occupy Tampa: The occupation takes a vacation

TAMPA — Occupy Tampa is not Occupy Wall Street, yet.

About a dozen people gathered in downtown's Lykes Gaslight Square on Friday morning. Several said they were surprised by the small turnout, especially compared with Thursday's crowd.

The group stood in a circle and strategized. John Green, 47, of Brandon said they just needed to be patient and persistent, to protest every day. He said the keys to success are consistency, recruiting and doing it all peacefully.

More than 600 people came to Thursday's event and marched through the streets of Tampa in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, chanting, "We are the 99 percent."

The spreading mantra of recession frustration refers to the 1 percent of Americans who control much of the nation's wealth.

Thousands of protesters in New York managed to extend the demonstration for three weeks by camping out, and 700 people were arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Some Occupy Tampa participants wanted to camp in the park, but they decided against that Thursday. They could have been arrested for trespassing.

Tampa officials didn't think the group would even need a permit. It was "very loosely organized," with no one person who represented the whole group, Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.

"It was more of a spontaneous event," she said. "We didn't have any expectation that it would be as large as it was yesterday."

Members of Occupy Tampa were "very cooperative" during the demonstration, which seemed to gather participants as a result of news coverage during the day, she said. "While the event turned out to be large, it didn't have any impact on downtown Tampa."

The protest waned, but the spirit remained.

Glenn Murawski, 19, a University of South Florida psychology student, said he figures people took the day off Thursday but can't keep doing that day after day.

Zachary Mitrovich, 23, said work is no excuse. Mitrovich, a Hillsborough Community College student, said he took off school to attend Friday's protest.

"The thing is, if you want the world to change, you have to make sacrifices," he said.

He wants giant crowds, and he wants to spend nights protesting, too.

"This is not Occupy Tampa," he said. "This is chill in Tampa."

Times staff writer Richard Danielson contributed to this report.

Occupy Tampa: The occupation takes a vacation 10/07/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 8, 2011 12:42am]

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