For the most part, the platoons of cops from every corner of the state that are roaming the streets of Tampa on bike, horse and foot appear bored but content.
Content they are making loads of overtime without having to do much but look intimidating. And that intimidation falls apart as soon as they start rolling out the red carpet for photographers.
Perhaps they are treating protesters a little differently but there are hardly any protesters so far.
Not nearly enough to justify spending $50 million in federal money on security measures to handle the chaos that was expected from thousands of protesters descending upon town.
Charlotte also spent $50 million for next week’s Democratic National Convention but it doesn’t appear that’s going to be any different.
The insanity, chaos and mass arrests – especially against photographers and journalists – that took place during the 2008 Republican and Democratic national conventions in Minneapolis-St. Paul and Denver respectively have yet to be seen here.
At first, we thought it had to do with the potential hurricane but it may have more to do with geography, according to my photojournalist friend Al Crespo, who has documented protests for years.
He said that most of the hard-core activists, the Black Bloc activists, the ones that are known to destroy shops and terrorize photographers, are based in the Northwest and it just becomes too time-consuming and costly to travel completely across the country.
He also said many of them have gotten older and just don’t have the same energy they had during the Seattle protests in 1999.
But Black Bloc activists have always represented a tiny percentage of protesters and surely did not represent most of the protesters during last year’s Occupy Wall Street movement, so it’s still not clear why there has been such activist apathy during this convention so far.
On Tuesday, I documented a protest about voting rights in Ybor City, about a few miles from downtown Tampa.
I would estimate the entire march consisted of less than 500 people and that’s being generous. And of those demonstrators, less than 30 were masked anarchists that were bussed down from New York City.
Tampa has a law that forbids people from wearing masks on the streets unless they are part of a protest, so the activists were forced to expose themselves before and after the protest to avoid arrest.
On Monday night, they arrested one activist on this charge.
Ironically, the guy in the top photo had an issue with me photographing him with his mask on when I could have photographed him numerous times without his mask, not that he seemed that interesting to photograph unmasked.
Things have been so uneventful that police have been cancelling their scheduled press briefings because there has been nothing to report.
Even the six members of the annoying Westboro Baptist Church that are walking the streets with their anti-homosexuality signs are inciting more mockery than rage.
In the video below, Mickey Osterreicher, general counsel of the National Press Photographers Association, talks about how he spent time educating local cops in how to deal with the media.
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CARLOS MILLER’S LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
I am immersed in a legal case where I not only want to clear my criminal charges stemming from my arrest in January, but I want to sue the Miami-Dade Police Department for deleting my footage, which I was able to recover.
My goal is to set some type of precedent to ensure this does not happen as often as it does today where cops simply get away with it.
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Also, in an unrelated PINAC matter, I recently went through a hair transplant operation and I’m documenting my recovery on this blog if you are interested. I did not pay for this transplant, which is why I’m promoting the doctor through the hair transplant blog.