In the words of punk rockers The Clash, “Know your rights.” Cigar City is bulging at the seams with protesters, journalists, pundits and politicos. You are here to protest. You are angry. You’ve got something to say. There are a few things you should know between shouting “legalize it” and screaming, “We are the 99 percent.” Over 800 people were arrested at the Republican National Convention in 2008. In the heat of the moment (literally, it’s really hot) a simple misstep can put you behind bars or on your back. Here is a basic guide in case you need to get bailed out of jail or find shelter from the storm.
Protester Base Camp: Romneyville
1312 N. Tampa St., Tampa
Reverend Bruce Wright puts the pro in protester. Wright has participated in activist activities locally and nationally for years. He heads up the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign site aka Romneyville. For those coming to town to participate in demonstrations, Wright has a few pointers.
“I highly recommend connecting with Romneyville because we are in the heart of the event zone,” Wright said. “We have lots of information to give people.”
If you need water, information on protests, or wireless Internet, Romneyville is a good base camp. Working as a citizen journalist? Independent media are welcome as well.
“As long as we have the space, people are welcome,” Wright said about those looking for a place to crash. “We have a couple other sites for people to camp.”
Some of the groups planning on camping at Romneyville during the convention include Code Pink, Food Not Bombs, and the Green Party.
Wright’s biggest piece of advice for protesters?
“Drink plenty of water, it’s going to be hot out there.”
Protesters need to eat too: Cafe Hey
1540 N. Franklin St., Tampa, 813-221-5150
Café Hey is extending its hours the week of the convention. The local coffee shop attached to the Oceanic Asian market will be a hub of activity for those in the 99 percent, but they’ll certainly welcome others, too.
“We will have a big bowl of beans and rice with bread for $3.99,” employee Chris Wood said Friday.
Everything kicks off Sat., Aug. 25, Café Hey is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
“Saturday we are doing Post!, a politically charged poster show with posters from all over the world,” Wood said. Speeches, art shows, music and more are happening all week at Café Hey. Oh, and did we mention they’ve got plenty of Wi-Fi and comfy seating?
In case you get arrested: Bail Bonds
Gui Wilson at Abby’s Bail Bonds in Tampa has some advice for protesters coming for the convention. Wilson recommended that out-of-towners have a contact person on the outside prepared to bail them out, just in case.
“If you’re from Minnesota and get arrested in Tampa, we have a secure payment gateway on our website,” Wilson said. “A friend or loved one in Minnesota can bail you out from the comfort of their home.”
All related bond contracts and paperwork can be emailed and faxed from your hometown without Mom and Dad having to drive down to get you out.
Wilson expects the week of the convention to be a busy one.
“Hillsborough usually gets 125-190 arrests a day on average,” Wilson said. “They are anticipating a larger number of protesters than the last convention so that average could double.”
Should a specific group get arrested en masse, Wilson said an outside point person for that group can call and get the bonding process started immediately.
“Sometimes TPD gets excited,” Wilson said. “Just because someone has a bad day and gets arrested doesn’t mean they are a bad person.”
A Bail Bondsman Inc, 610 E. Zack St., Tampa, 813-229-3278; Abby’s Bail Bonds, 6207 N. 40th St., Tampa, 813-241-4355, abbysbailbonds.com; Against All Odds Bail Bonds, 5010 E. Broadway Ave., Tampa, 813-300-9107, againstalloddsbailbonds.com; Bridgett’s Bail Bonds, 2602 W. Azeele St., Tampa, 813-873-2200, bridgettsbailbonds.com; Roche Bail Bonds, 1906 Orient Road, Tampa, 813-623-3355, rochebailbonds.com; Ruben Bazarte Bail Bonds, 708 E. Scott St., Tampa, 813-221-1180, bazartebailbonds.com.
Tools of the trade: Get the app
Creative Loafing’s Mitch Perry got the nitty gritty on a new mobile site that allows you to see where security cameras are located. Computer programmer Jon Gales created Rncctv.com after learning about all the security cameras being installed downtown. The site uses your location and indicates nearby cameras with small blue circles. Open the site while in downtown Tampa and the map is barraged with cameras.
“Some of these cameras can look into people’s bedrooms. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have a public discussion about them,” Gales told Perry in an email.
Permanent marker, bandana, backpack, sunglasses, granola, water bottle, sunscreen, deodorant (optional, but if you’re for the greater good, then please do).
The National Lawyers Guild will have trained legal observers on the ground at the convention and a 24-hour hotline — 813-241-0101 — in case you are arrested or if you want to request legal observers on the ground. Look for neon green hats in the crowd; those are NLG legal observers and they can help if you get arrested. Don’t know your rights? NLG will be holding trainings every day from Aug. 21-25, with a 6 p.m. session at Occupy Tampa’s Voice of Freedom Park, 2101 W. Main St., and a 7 p.m. session at Romneyville, behind the Army-Navy Store at 1312 N. Tampa St. Trainings for legal and medical last 30 minutes.
Don’t bring your own water into the event zone
The city is banning containers filled with any liquid in the event zone. Do have an empty water bottle, though, because the city will have stations providing 50,000 gallons of water for protesters, police, and anyone else downtown in the event zone.
Know your sites
Economichumanrights.org; resistrnc.org; tampa.nlg.org; marchonthernc.com; tampagov.net/RNC; cohart.orgs; gopconvention2012.com; cltampa.com/rnc.