ResistRNC.org is supposed to be a resource site for non-violent Occupy activists who want to protest the RNC this week. But the site’s sidebar still contains a link to a map of CCTV cameras throughout downtown Tampa. Why would non-violent protesters be concerned about the locations of cameras?
As you can see on their endorsements page, ResistRNC.org is supported by a collection of Occupy and other socialist groups including CodePink, Occupy Wall Street, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, and branches of Industrial Workers for the World. These are not mainstream protesters in any political sense; they are on the far left of the American political spectrum.
But the organizers behind ResistRNC have made efforts to assure people who visit the site that they are not supporting any violence. A press release posted on the Site August 25th reads in part:
You have been told that we are coming to commit acts of violence and destruction. We are not.
We utilize peaceful means to promote peaceful ends and to stand up for justice…social, economic and environmental justice.
You have been told that we are coming to fight the police. We are not.
It sounds good, but it isn’t entirely consistent with material found on the rest of the site. For instance, the “Challenge” page of the website lays out how the organizers hope protesters will make use of the site in a simple five-step process. Step 1 is to gather your group, and step 2 reads “Study the maps on our website…” In step 3, organizers are then supposed to use this information to “Brainstorm with your affinity group to come up with innovative, creative actions that will be EFFECTIVE.”
So if the maps are the key to brainstorming and being effective, what information is on the maps? Clicking on the “Maps” page brings up a list of “Institutions of Slavery,” which is the site’s catch-all name for major banks including Bank of America, Chase, CitiBank, and Wells Fargo. What does ResistRNC expect their audience of creative protesters will do with this map of “Institutions of Slavery”? They don’t say, but it isn’t hard to guess.
The Occupy movement has targeted banks with vandalism and graffiti across the country. Banks in Portland, Oakland, St.Louis, Boston, Seattle, New York City, Santa Barbara, and Orange County have been the target of Occupiers. Suspicious vandalism at ATMs in the Orlando area did tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Police noted that the vandals clearly weren’t interested in taking money, just in damaging the ATMs.
The other curious element on the ResistRNC map of Tampa is the location of CCTV cameras in the downtown area. These are marked as blue dots on the main map. But if you check the sidebar for the ResistRNC website, there is a second map which shows just the location of cameras. Why do peaceful protesters need maps of camera locations? And why does ResistRNC.org tell people to study these maps before brainstorming “creative” actions?