Sunday, June 24, 2018
Politics

While officers stay on sidelines, RNC protests decry police tactics

TAMPA — Wednesday was another day of peaceful protests, with two noticeable differences: more organization among protesters and less visibility from police.

Just a dozen bicycle officers could be seen during an afternoon Planned Parenthood Action Fund rally at Julian B. Lane River­front Park, and only a smattering of officers around the crowd.

Tampa police Chief Jane Castor attended the event and explained the decrease in police presence compared with every other protest during the Republican National Convention.

"We don't want to show an overwhelming number of officers," she said. "We want to have a measured approach."

The situation was similar at the evening's AFL-CIO march along the approved parade route.

Even baiting officers didn't draw out a big response. At a late-night unplanned protest in Lykes Gaslight Square Park, officers stood silent as protesters held boxes of doughnuts and dangled bagels on a rope.

On the protest side, the day's events served as an example of improved organization.

At the Planned Parenthood rally, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Democrat representing Tampa, spoke. A woman dressed as a giant birth control pill pack took the stage and led a chant:

"Ho, Ho, Hey, Hey, Planned Parenthood is here to stay!"

A message to Republicans was emblazoned on some attendees' pink shirts: "WOMEN ARE WATCHING."

Even a sudden downpour failed to break up the event. Organizers passed out pink ponchos as the rally continued about 20 minutes later.

An evening march — hosted by the West Central Florida Federation of Labor Central Labor Council and attended by about 100 union workers including postal employees, steelworkers and teachers — started promptly and had a clear message.

"Welcome to Romney's America," a banner read. Satirical skits along the parade route highlighted what the country supposedly would look like if Mitt Romney were elected president.

"We need to retain and expand workers' rights and benefits," said Sarasota resident Beverly St. Hilaire. "I feel Romney is protecting the 1 percent; they're destroying the middle class."

But not everything went as expected Wednesday.

About 9:30 p.m., protesters briefly blocked downtown traffic when they left Gaslight Park and headed back to their camp.

Some protesters headed farther south, down Ashley Drive toward the Tampa Bay Times Forum. As they clustered there, Chief Castor appeared and mingled with them and journalists.

"We're allowing people to exercise their rights," she said.

Earlier, protesters at the Romney­ville camp marched to decry what they said was a heavy police presence the day before.

"I sag my pants, I rock my hoodie," they chanted in unison. "TPD keep your hands off me!"

The Tampa Police Department did just that, but bicycle officers kept a close eye on the march from afar and kept pace.

Protesters then marched to Argosy University on N Howard Avenue to protest "scam schools." The university is a for-profit school in which the Goldman Sachs investment banking firm holds a stake. The group then decided to head toward the AFL-CIO march, but first needed directions. Who did the protesters ask?

The police.

Times staff writers Kameel Stanley, Justin George, Jessica Vander Velde, Kim Wilmath, Keeley Sheehan, Jamal Thalji, Bill Varian, Joe Smith, Robbyn Mitchell, Mike Brassfield and Bill Varian contributed to this report.

Comments
Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave - and would do it again

LEXINGTON, Va. - Stephanie Wilkinson was at home Friday evening - nearly 200 miles from the White House - when the choice presented itself.Her phone rang about 8 p.m. It was the chef at the Red Hen, the tiny farm-to-table restaurant that she co-owned...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six candidates waltz into their seats as qualifying ends. The rest still have a fight

Six local candidates across Tampa Bay — all county commissioners and city council members — effectively won their elections Friday by default: No one qualified to run against them.The rest still have a fight.Some will square off in an Aug. 28 primary...
Published: 06/22/18
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Published: 06/22/18
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18