Are Tampa police using tanks to threaten Occupy protestors?

5:58 PM, Nov 21, 2011   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- The Occupy Tampa movement is still standing, but some of the protestors say police are using a new, aggressive tactic to intimidate them: a tank.

"I think that it's just another brick in a larger program of intimidation," said protestor Joe Jay.

Members of the movement say TPD is cruising by in the big, armored trucks. Pictures spread around the country over Facebook and Twitter, leading to speculation that TPD was moving in with the tanks.

But officers say it's just a coincidence, and the vehicle actually just passed by on its way to a Great American Teach-In event.

"It seems to me that he went pretty far out of his way to make sure that he drove by our camp," Jay said.

That controversy comes as officials in California investigate why police pepper-sprayed non-violent protestors on the campus of UC-Davis over the weekend.

On Monday, the campus chief of police was placed on administrative leave, while students and faculty called on the Chancellor to resign.

Retired FBI agent and professor at St. Leo University, Brian Kensel tells 10 News pepper spray is actually among the least violent uses of force for a police officer.

For example, he says it's less dangerous than using a baton, fist, or even a taser.

"There are circumstances, certainly, in which an officer would be justified in using it with a non-compliant, non-violent suspect," Kensel explained. "Pepper spray is uncomfortable, but that's all it is.  Within 45 minutes you recover, there's no lasting effects."

But even though Tampa police say they have no plans to move in on the Occupy protest, there are concerns a pepper spray incident could happen in the Bay area.

"I do think, absolutely, that when they find a way that they can do it, they will try to sweep us out," Jay said.

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