|Guy Fawkes being arrested.|
Here's the peaceful benevolent view of the role the officers will have during the Republican Convention from the chamber of commerce:
Another group that is busy preparing is police officers. Over 5,500 have been tasked with patrolling the convention and keeping the peace. Officers have gone through a specific training protocol that addresses how to handle protestors.Maybe that's the gloss you'd expect from the Chamber of Commerce for any Tampa event, especially the bit about the right to freedom of speech. Do they really mean that? Doesn't sound like Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee is on the same page. His take on what his police will do can be found in a letter to the public his office just issued:
First a warning will be issued. If it is not heeded, an arrest will be made. All of the police are encouraged to take their time in dealing with protestors so that peaceful resolutions are met. Traditionally, police forces are viewed negatively during convention times and often face criticism. Though chances are slim that this can be completely avoided, the force in Tampa is going out of its way to paint itself in the best light.
All officers have been told that the primary concern during the protests is to protect the First Amendment right of freedom of speech. What they want to avoid is the "arrest first, figure out later" mentality...
Tactically, we are ready. Security plans for the venue and the perimeters are set. Boundaries, protests zones and parade routes are established for the thousands expected in downtown Tampa.... To the agitators and anarchists who want only to bring a dark cloud to this event, let me be clear: criminal activity and civil disturbances will not be tolerated and enforcement actions will be swift.Rather than lend an ear to the freedom of speech, it sounds like the Sheriff stands ready for battle with the terrible swift sword of retribution. No wonder the Sheriff is reported to have emptied out the local jails for future arrests. Makes your favorite Clearwater Criminal Defense Lawyer wonder why the 1,700 folks were in the jail if they could be safely released or moved, but it's clear evidence that Tampa Law Enforcement is preparing for the Republican Convention in the best way they know how: making mass police stops and arrests early and often.