"Hey, hey, Mitt Romney! Anti-choice doesn't represent me!" the group shouted in unison. But this was just a test. Code Pink was training activists in everything from protest chants to protest wardrobe.
"We are teaching chants and educating people on issues," actions coordinator Medea Benjamin said. "Florida isn't as progressive when it comes to women's reproductive rights, for example."
Throughout the rehearsal, the activists held up pink banners that read "Bring our war $$$ home." Some of the people sported human-sized vagina suits for the initiative "Bring your vagina to the RNC." A suitcase overflowing with fabric signs, pink duct tape, and stickers was on the floor, while laminated cutouts of Romney, Ryan and other Republicans sat on the table.
"We have three main messages: We want corporate super PAC's out of politics. We want the war dollars brought home," Abileah said. "Finally, we are opposing the GOP's oppression of women's rights."
Including women's rights is important because of the current political dialogue, and because of Florida's pro-life leaning legislation.
"I thought we had won these rights for good already," Benjamin said. "It's depressing to fight the same fight once again."
When it comes to spending on the war, women's health, and education, Benjamin sees the issues as connected.
"The Republicans' backward stances on the war are related to them denying rights to women," Benjamin said. "Unfortunately these issues are connected."
Later, attendees received practical knowledge regarding protesting. Two young field medics/protest veterans, Jonathan and Oliver, brought their know-how to the growing group inside the coffee shop. Their advice?
"Don't carry your house on your back, you're going to a protest."
"Do bring sunscreen, but only if it is water-based. Oil-based can allow any chemical weapons to continue working."
"Clothing should be light-colored, loose, and provide as much coverage as possible."
"You want to be covered from the sun and possible chemical weapons." (Full sleeves and long pants were recommended.)
"Don't wear your contacts, bring your glasses — if you need them — instead." (Chemicals can get under the contact, causing irritation.)
"Put electronics in a sealed plastic bag in case of rain or water damage."
"Have a buddy. You want something to ground you if something happens, having a buddy gives you that. "
"Most importantly, don't spread rumors."
"The one thing protesters are most hungry for isn't food or water, it's information. Rely on your senses."
Both men recalled instances where they were given incorrect information during a protest.
"Think, what am I seeing? What am I smelling? What am I hearing?" Jonathan said. "Does it look like the police are actually raiding a place with tear gas right now? Or is it just a rumor?"
Advice about the police? "Their greatest weapon you're up against is fear," Jonathan said. "Keep an awareness of that and your emotions."
Finally, if people start to run, Jonathan and Oliver try not to yell, "Don't run!"
"Someone could hear that wrong and think you're telling people to run," Jonathan said. "Say 'Please walk,' instead."
Monday's RNC schedule has been canceled due to impending weather. However, Code Pink will march Monday morning from Perry Harvey Park on Orange Avenue.
What will Code Pink do if the rains come down?
"Plan A was to protest, Plan B is to protest soaking wet," Benjamin said. "We are making a Plan C now."
Benjamin said Code Pink is working with local officials to develop a safety plan if the weather takes a turn for the worse. Benjamin joked about the hurricane weather coming down at the convention.
"You might say that this weather is just the goddesses coming down and seeking revenge," Benjamin said.