Rob Lorei, director of news and public affairs for the Tampa community radio station WMNF, describes the incredible amount of police security in Tampa for the Republican National Convention.
I think the most interesting thing for people that know Tampa or people that don’t know Tampa is that the southern half of downtown Tampa has been completely cut off, and in some ways militarized, so that you see National Guard on the streets. They’re armed with rifles. Police are roaming the streets throughout downtown Tampa. There’s been talk about protesters, but really, the Romneyville camp only has about a hundred people, the Occupy camp has a few dozen people. We really haven’t seen the influx of protesters that the authorities warned us about. And what’s interesting is that you can’t get through downtown Tampa within blocks and blocks of the Tampa Convention Center, so if you’re trying to drive through, if you’ve got business down in that part of town, you have no access to it. And it seems, in some ways, that this is overkill, that they are preparing for something that-a need that didn’t arise.
AMY GOODMAN: They have something like, what, $50 million, the authorities?
ROB LOREI: They’re spending $50 million. They’ve deployed-
AMY GOODMAN: On security.
ROB LOREI: On security, for machine guns, for these police. If you go into the city of Tampa right now and you see these people in tan uniforms who are police officers, sheriffs’ deputies from around the state, they’re armed, they have pistols on their side, they have what appears to be tear gas bags on their side. They’re waiting for the worst. And, of course, you know, Tampa is not known for having major protests. We’re not like New York or Seattle. And so, why they prepared in this manner-I talked to the police department at one point, and they said they were trying to learn the lessons from St. Paul, and they were trying to learn the lessons from New York and Chicago recently. But this goes way beyond. I mean, there’s probably-and I don’t know what the number are, but there’s probably ten security personnel for every protester who’s in town
.Glen Johnson also reports on how security personnel in Tampa are “…are all about controlling access.”
In the case of Tampa and other potential targets, agents construct boxes within boxes.
That 8-foot fence is part of the outer perimeter. Buildings inside and fencing blocking doors or steering pedestrians toward other entrances help form the middle zone.
The metal detectors and even agents outside the room where presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney will be form the inner zone.
“If you don’t have a perimeter, you have open access, you have a free-for-all,” said [Daniel] Bongino [former New York City police officer and Secret Service agent].
Nonetheless, he said his former colleagues and all their police brothers are not trying to antagonize convention attendees.
“They’re not here to make your life more miserable. I know it seems that way,” Bongino said. “They really want it to be user-friendly, but security, it’s not always easy to round off the rough edges.”
How about just not treating citizens like threats?
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