The Republican National Convention took place in in Tampa, Florida and of course this means protests. I saw pictures online of the heavy police presence but wanted to see it for my self so I threw my bike in the car and drove in as close as I could without having to pay to park and rode the remaining 2 miles carrying my camera gear and a gallon of water to deal with the sweltering heat and humidity.
I had an idea of where the Anarchist had set up their camp which was a commercial property leased to them. there were two buses set up, one functioning as a mobile kitchen and tents filled the mulched lot. The thin herd of protesters was sitting in the shade finishing their lunch waiting to make their next move. spontaneously a game of Ninja broke out and arms and feet went flying, bodies twisting and ducking.
I was sort of an outsider here; not “official” press, not a protester. Even with the police presence I didn’t feel it was a safe area to leave my bike chained up so when the march began I took my bike, which allowed me to get ahead of the crowd but was more limiting than it was advantageous.
The anarchist started out with chants berating the police who were following the march in large numbers. About 10 or 15 minutes into the march the police backed off and left the demonstrators to go on their way unaccompanied, but not really they were actually pacing the mob on a parallel road.
The route led to another Occupy camp where more people joined the march and water bottles were refilled before they made their way to Argosy University to protest the for-profit college that is supposedly owned by Bain Capital, a company Mitt Romney [the republican candidate for president] played a big role in.
Along the way I talked briefly with a few of the other photographers who shoot for various local and national news agencies. The police gave the protesters a “parade route”through an area of town I wouldn’t normally feel safe walking. I noticed a kid in the opening of a gate and though it would have been a great shot from behind him looking towards the mob of people coming down the road but I couldn’t get to him with the bike but several other photographers saw the same shot one walked up and and another came running. as soon as the kid saw a big white guy come running at him he sprinted off, ruining the shot for everyone. The photographers were cursing the guy who ran up.
On the walk back I met a Photographer named Nancy, who shoots for a Newspaper in Long Island New York. She flew down, not on assignment but out of her own interest in shooting the event. [she is in all black on the right side of the above photo] Since I didnt have plans and wanted to stick around and shoot more at night time i offered to show her a cool pizza place, Pizza Fusion, where she could charge her laptop and send in some of her photos [Nancy Borowick Photography]. After eating I was messing with one of her Nikon cameras when a cop car went zooming down the street in reverse, followed by a swarm of bicycle cops. i grabbed my camera and ran out the door to see what was going on. I heard chanting coming from a distant crowd so I knocked on the window of the pizza place and told her to come on, but she had her laptop out and a bag of stuff strewn around. she left the bag for the waitress to look after and we ran out to shoot the crowd that headed to Gas Light Park.
Under the canopy of trees and surrounded by cops and a barricades the mass sat and had 5 minutes of silence for the victims of police brutality, then they went in turn telling their stories or stories of their friends who could not make it.
They didnt seem to be moving along anytime soon so we headed out to see the free speech area hoping to get a shot of the Tampa Bay Times Forum but we couldn’t get close enough but found Check Point Charlie and a ton of police then so we went by the river to take a few shots then headed back to get my bike that was locked at the pizza place and to her car. It was excellent that she offered to drive me back to my car instead of me having to ride in the dark
RNC August 30th Tampa, Fl [update to come shortly] http://www.flickr.com/photos/ligynnek/sets/72157631332474900/