The weather-related cancellation of the first day of the Republican National Convention didn’t just stop the GOP party faithful who came to Tampa. It also put a serious damper on the protests that were planned for the event.
A protest march that started on Monday morning at 10 AM was expected to have over 5000 attendees, but the crowd consisted of not much more than a couple hundred soggy socialists.
The assembled throng in Tampa consisted of the usual crunchy granola trail mix of left-wing groups, from the unions protesting the notion of postal service cutbacks as racist to college-age socialists who drove down from Gainesville to a crowd of Code Pink protesters (Including Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin) wearing costume replicas of female genitalia. Even worse than this nightmare image; Code Pink sang.
In over an hour of short speeches, it appeared the the event had nearly as many people taking to the stage as it did watching.
Democrat talking points abounded, especially on the issue of abortion. In keeping with the Democratic machine’s post-Todd Akin election strategy, many speakers and signs hit the Republicans on the abortion issue. This was unusual at this sort of rally, in my experience, and reflects the peace and justice movement’s inherent affinity with Barack Obama’s supposedly mainstream brand of liberalism.
As I was leaving the event, about 100 people showed up walking towards where the speeches were ending, dressed in the typical attire of Black Bloc anarachists. They had done the smart thing -- avoided all the speeches and chanting -- and were ready to get down to business.
However, the small crowd size meant that the anarchist wing had no place to hide. Normally, the Black Bloc marches along in the group, pulls handkerchiefs over their faces, and then breaks away to cause mayhem. After causing a bit of property damage, its members blend right back in the protest. However, this time the small size of the overall group combined with a strong police presence on the streets made it nearly impossible for the violent direct action wing to do much of anything.