January 13, 2012
Seeking to ensure the protection of top Republican and Democratic politicos, the U.S. government has funneled $100 million to the host cities of this year’s presidential nominating conventions. This calls into question why the 42% of Americans who identify themselves as independents or members of smaller parties should have to foot the bill for political parties that are supported by only 31% of the population (Democrats) and 27% (Republicans).
Tampa, Florida, received a $50 million federal grant to help it prepare for the Republican National Convention, scheduled for August 27-30. City officials are expecting large protests outside the three-day event, featuring many of those from the Occupy movements that took place last year around the country.
To handle what could be as many as 15,000 demonstrators, Tampa has purchased an armored SWAT vehicle and may bring in up to 2,000 police officers from other cities to bolster its local law enforcement.
More than $3 million will be spent on new digital video communication technology that can transmit images from police helicopters to officers on the ground using handheld receivers. The city also plans to install 60 surveillance cameras in the downtown area.
The Democratic National Convention, set for September 3-7, will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina. That city too received $50 million from Washington to help pay for police training and equipment upgrades. Like Tampa, Charlotte intends to import between 2,400 and 3,400 officers from around the state to expand security around the convention site.