The day started off really slow’one of the two buses at the Romneyville protester camp had left and the energy was really low. I was standing around talking with some of the other photographers, waiting on Nancy to get to the camp. A Rhino ATV pulled up and the police started handing out water and Gatorade; the journalist swarmed thinking it may be the only shot of the day, in fact it was what was shown on our local news channel.
Shortly after Nancy arrived and we got word that protesters were about to move. Their target; Dominoes, which is owned by Bain Capital. The protesters were in essence escorted to the pizza place where more police met them, having already creating a wall around the shop. protesters sat across the driveway blocking every car trying to enter, preventing 0 of 0 customers from entering. playing off of popular chant, “the people divided will never be defeated” the protesters jokingly chanted, “the pizza divided will never be reheated”
After the pizza protest we went back ton Romneyville hoping to find out what was planned by the protesters. a bus showed up and protesters started getting on but no one knew it’s destination not even the bus driver. We heard word they were doing an animal rights action then something about Earth so we decided to get Nancy’s car and follow them but we didn’t know how far they were going so we decided it would be better to stay and see what else was going on. It turned out that the bus went to a Coal fired power plant in Apollo Beach called Big Bend, where protesters chained themselves together. After police cut the chain all protesters were turned free and asked to leave.
Nancy and I walked to the “Free Speech Area” [Isn’t the whole Country a free speech zone?] police have this entry area under tight security,watching your moves from above, long before you even get near. we met a group of Texas delegates who were protesting what the RNC did in regards to de-credentialing delegates to create the appearance that a larger majority supports Romney that is actually true. check out this informative news story explaining the issue.
I was on a hunt for a port-a-jon and met the guy in the red striped shirt in the picture below. He and I started talking or rather he was venting,pretty aggressively, his frustrations about being on lock down at his hotel job anytime a high profile government person was on the move in the building. The guy in the suit was standing on the corner and as soon as we crossed the street he started following us. I turned across the street again and he kept following the other guy. I say Secret Service.
Nancy and I went to meet one of her friends and get lunch at the Taco Bus downtown,one of my favorite restaurants in Tampa. the tiny Dominican girl working there asked me how I liked it and I said I prefer the location on Hillsborough because of the ambiance; at that one you feel like you are in a different country. The girl was sort of offended and left us to eat our food. About 2 minutes later some Merengue music came on and she came over to ask if that was better and asked if there was anything else that she could do, jokingly I said speak to me in Spanish; She said, “Hola papi…” Nancy’s friend stepped out to make a call and ran in to grab his camera so I ran out too leaving Nancy with her laptop and the rest of her stuff she had laying on the table. The Sheriff’s riot squad was posing for a picture.
We heard from a group of kids in the Taco Bus that protesters would be converging on Lykes Gaslight SquarePark around 8pm so we packed up and headed towards Romneyville but ran into the march before we got there.
In Gaslight Park protesters sat in a circle and held a 5 minute moment of silence for those who have suffered police brutality. Afterwards they began recounting what has happened to them and their friends at the hands of police, one of them having been put in a coma for 2 days.
From the park the protesters marched to the free speech area where they were blocked off and then continued around the city. At Kennedy and Ashley St. the protest came to a halt and cars crossing the bridge into downtown were losing it, honking furiously. Soon enough the three columns of traffic radiating out from the protest was allowed to continue after the protest carried on.
The police shepherded the protesters to an nonthreatening location where they could protest until they could no more. there were songs and chants and even an act of street theater. The protesters then called for a mic check and declared, “CUDDLE PUDDLE” and everyone laid down on the street, laughing and smiling.
One stern protester tried to make demands of the police, requesting that the officers clear a path so that they could continue marching towards the arena where the convention was being held but the officer had nothing to say.
since yesterday I had been looking for higher ground to get a nice overhead shot of the protests. Finally at this point in the march I found a small parking garage. Despite the police using it as an observation deck I climbed up, unobstructed.
On the ground at the foot of the parking garage I looked up to see a police officer ready to shoot off a tear gas canister or some other non-lethal weapon.
The protesters made it to the Field in front of the arena but were blocked by two rows of 10 ft fence and an expansive parking lot so their shouts of discontent were of little result.