RNC: Hints of Violence as Law Enforcement Prepares for Tampa
Law enforcement agencies have been gearing up for the Republican National Convention in Tampa to be held August 27th – August 30th. For many, that’s welcome news, as local and national anarchist groups have amped up the chatter in recent months.
On Tuesday, Tampa police said they confiscated “pipes, bricks and other suspicious items from the rooftop of a downtown building located about a mile from where next week's Republican National Convention will be held.” The police chief also indicated that they have studied other protests in preparation for this month’s convention.
Police have been preparing for the event for nearly two years. Castor said she's studied other protests surrounding political events, most notably the RNC in St. Paul in 2008, where authorities were taken by surprise by an active minority of demonstrators who smashed cars, punctured tires and threw bottles in a confrontation with pepper-spray-wielding police. Hundreds were arrested over a few days, including dozens of journalists.
Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy told the Tampa Tribune in June that “officers have developed a security plan and even attended the NATO conference in Chicago in May to observe how violent protests were handled.”
In 2010, after it was first announced that Tampa would be the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention, AnarchistNews.org published the following letter from the Tampa Bay Action Group:
In August of 2012, the Republican National Convention will be held in the sunny, humid, sub-tropical belly of the beast of Tampa Bay, Florida.
The Tampa Bay Action Group (TBAG), a decentralized collective of anarchists strewn throughout the urban and swampy reaches of Florida, is committed to making 2012 and the RNC in Tampa a truly catastrophic celebration of liberty and joy. The theater of capitalist disaster will rear its head in the divided apartheid communities of Tampa, where wealth touts itself as master of the land, as the Mayan calender [sic] comes to the end of a cycle. While TBAG does not adhere to prophesy, the hint of collapse (and renewal) is a promising dream.
We do not take sides with Dems or Reps. Nevertheless, the Republicans and their racist wannabe Tea Party stooges happen to be the imperialists-dejour [sic] entering our waters. We intend to demonstrate what a real tea party looks like: the direct and deliberate destruction of the commodities of our oppressors and the celebration of the armed spirit.
With Love and Lust for Life,
The Tampa Bay Action Group
PS, we are not a coordinating committee. That group has yet to present itself.
The group also issued a disturbing press release in 2010 in anticipation of the 2012 convention.
The Tampa Bay Action Group (TBAG) is based out of St. Petersburg, Florida and has been active in the area and nationally for many years. The group has organized many protests and actions, including blockades - it also claims to have organized the infamous Seattle World Trade Organization blockades. In 2004, an organization known as the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, of which TBAG was listed as a member, was involved in a rally and march from the United Nations in New York that resulted in an attack on a police detective and left him unconscious after the group was allowed through without a permit.
In recent months, videos have surfaced that hint at the tactics we can expect from such groups at and near the convention sites. This one, which encourages property destruction and tearing down security perimeters, declares Republicans to be, “the most sexist, racist and homophobic…They thrive off war and imprisonment and do not care about the Earth they live on. They are by far the most elitist.”
The video makes reference to the group associated with terrorism charges over planned violence at the 2008 RNC in St. Paul, Minnesota – it promises, “Anarchists and radicals have gathered a group called the “RNC Welcoming Committee,” they are in no way welcoming.”
Another video posted last month, this one referencing the hacker collective Anonymous, elaborates further on protesters’ plans for next week. It calls for “Black Bloc against buildings that contain corporations and governments that oppress, and to show the system what it truly means to resist.”
The full transcript of that video, in its original text, is posted below.
Greetings world we are anonymous. All of us have carefully prepared to face our authoritarian government at RNC for well over a year now. Last year in 2011 you seen the brave hearted activists of America rise up against the injustices of our corrupt government. Occupy wall street quickly transformed into an occupy America, massive amounts people peacefully protested in streets but many fell in the marches against oppression, violently beaten, gassed, pepper sprayed and arrested along with their hopes and dreams of true freedom shattered.
This was followed by law after law being thrown upon our society in an effort to further suppress us by destroying our basic human rights and ignoring the constitution. Mayor Bob Buckhorn has created Clean Zones at RNC in a desperate effort to put up more anti-constitutional walls attempting to block our righteous path to true freedom. The path that so many oppressed, suffering American citizens boldly walk on in our struggle for what is just. When Protest becomes illegal there is no other option left but to fight. No one rules if no one obeys. Therefore Mayor Bob Buckhorn can shove his authoritarian clean zones up his ass. Mr. Buckhorn your warnings mean nothing to Anonymous.
We are legion, we are many and we do not forgive you Buckhorn and we will not obey these authoritarian laws. We have come to a point in time where it is obvious that marching around with signs will not have a further effect on this system of enslavement. What will have an effect is thousands of us who desire true freedom bursting through the streets with our iron clad fists of revolution ready to crush the oppressors.
So it's time warriors of the internet gather and bring the black block to the buildings that contain the corporations and governments that oppress us and show this system what it truly means to resist. A guide map will soon appear on resist RNC dot org prior to the start of the RNC as a starting point. These locations are present in every town across the nation as well as the globe. Together, united by one, divided by zero the Activists traveling to RNC from all over the nation can take over the city of Tampa.
Now is our time to show that we have had enough and we will show this by giving our oppressors a battle they will forever remember. Do not fear the enemy for they rely on intimidating fear tactics to control us. When you no longer fear only then you can become truly free. They cannot stop us all, there will be far too many of us for them to force us all to obey their rules. Do not let their blockades stop us from marching, knock them down and march on. Let nothing stop you, millions of our people still suffer and together we shall fight for them. We are done asking for our freedoms it is time we take our freedoms. Together we will keep the dreams of our fallen comrades alive.
These are merely examples of the chatter that has been building online for months, and they elude to the type of activity we can anticipate encountering around the convention. However, Tuesday’s confiscation of riot-related materials that were expected to have been used by demonstrators in next week’s protests are a promising sign that law enforcement is prepared to protect not only the rights of the protesters, but also the rights of those attending the convention who wish to do so in an environment free of violence and disruption. While anarchy may be the desire of many of the protesters planning to descend upon Tampa, the majority of the so-called 99% (which, to the dismay of Occupiers, does in fact encompass individuals who don’t all share the same political views) wish not to witness a repeat of events like the Seattle WTO actions of 1999 or the 2008 RNC in St. Paul.