August 27, 2012

While Tampa experiences frequent rain throughout the year, rains began in earnest on the afternoon of Sunday, August 26th as Tropical Storm Isaac moved into the southern portion of the Gulf of Mexico. It is anticipated that the storm — while passing through the center of the gulf and not striking Tampa directly — will bring heavy rains and high winds late Monday and into Tuesday. The expected stormy weather has caused the RNC’s planners to cancel the first day of the convention, packing the event into three days instead of four, with the show still ending on Thursday, August 30th as scheduled when Mitt Romney will address the republican faithful

The day before the convention was set to begin, social justice activists began with protests in both Tampa and nearby St. Petersburg. Seven activists were ejected from the Tampa Theater for chanting and hanging a “Working Families” banner during a speech by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition event. On the other side of the Tampa Bay, a Death of Democracy March was held to draw attention to the “worlds largest cocktail party” being held at taxpayers expense. They were joined by local faith leaders for a community vigil and march on the same “RNC Kick-Off Party” being held at Tropicana Field in In St. Petersburg. In all, nearly a thousand people turned out to protest the event.

In the evening, while taking the photographs seen here of downtown Tampa, a Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy stopped myself and videographer Jacob Crawford to ask what we were doing. He said we were not being detained but demanded identification. When he was provided with identification, he went to his patrol car and entered our names into his computer, checking for warrants and outstanding legal issues, as well as to file an “information sheet” on his contact with us. While the deputy was doing the background check, and initiating the contact report, his partner at the roadblock, a Tampa police officer with his own patrol car, informed us that they had been instructed to view anyone photographing in the area as suspicious and to demand identification. They said they had stopped two other people with cameras earlier in the day. I asserted that they would not be stopping us, in the rain no less, if we had large video cameras with a corporate news logo on the side.

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