RNC 'Event Zone' passes; gun law debated

12:23 PM, May 17, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

10:45am UDPATE:  The Tampa City Council voted 4-2 Thursday, approving the proposed "Event Zone" and its rules during the Republican National Convention.

Councilman Charlie Miranda was not present and councilwomen Yvonne Capin and Mary Mulhern voted "No."

The Event Zone ordinance has been met with criticism by those who claim it's a violation of their First Amendment rights, because it restricts what they can bring and how long they can protest in some areas in large groups.

Councilwoman Mulhern says she did not support the ordinance, because she says she feels it will not make the city safer.

Also at issue: the city not being allowed to restrict people from carrying their concealed weapons in the Event Zone if they have a concealed weapons permit, even though the RNC is a National Security event.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn wrote a letter to Governor Rick Scott asking if the city could temporarily restrict concealed weapons.  Governor Scott said no, because it would be a violation of a person's Second Amendment right to bear arms. 

"Quite frankly, I don't buy it," Mulhern said of the Governor's argument. "Those who can do something about it had better," she later added.

The council is now discussing whether to send a letter to the Department of Justice, Secret Service, the legislature and the US Attorney General, and the Governor to allow the city to restrict guns from being brought in the Event Zone.

Earlier in the meeting, Councilman Frank Reddick called out a group of protesters who are against the event zone -- not for their stances, but their actions of "defacing the building."

Protesters have marked up the sidewalks outside the building with chalk, in protest of the passage of the Event Zone ordinance. 

Councilman Reddick says he was also found markings in City Hall's bathrooms and on windows. He told them the council has allowed them their time to say what they want to say during council meetings, but added "You do not have the right to deface this building."

Also on Thursday, the city council approved the purchase of additional cotton t-shirts for Tampa Police officers to wear during the RNC, along with the purchase of respiratory equipment (gas masks) and tactical communication equipment for the department to use during the convention. 

The costs total about $829,000 and will be covered by a Department of Justice grant designated for RNC expenses. 

Earlier Story:

Tampa, Florida --  The Tampa City Council is slated to make a final vote on the "Event Zone" and its rules for the Republican National Convention in August.

The zone has been downsized from its original boundaries, no longer including Davis Islands.  It includes the front entrance of Harbour Island. 

Protest times have also been tweaked to allow groups of 50 or more demonstrators to gather all day in city parks if they have a permit and extending parade route demonstrations from 60 minutes to 90 minutes.  A designated protest area will be open to protestors all day without permits, near the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

The limit on time and what they can bring are among the many issues some people have with the proposal, claiming it's a violation of their first amendment rights.

A group of Occupy Tampa protestors held a retirement party for the First Amendment after the May 3rd city council meeting when the 'Event Zone' got its first round of approvals in a 5-2 vote.

The prohibited items list is staying put.  Among the items prohibited on public property in the 'Event Zone' includes ropes and chains longer than 6 feet long, locks, gas masks, water guns, and glass bottles.

While water guns will be banned, people with concealed weapons permits will be allowed to carry their guns within the event zone because of their right to bear arms, a 2nd Amendment right.

So, does this mean you will be arrested if you carry a glass bottle of orange juice or tea on public property within the event zone?  City staffers said, no.  The rules are aimed at those intending to do harm to property and people.

The council approved RNC related expenses for Tampa Police this morning which includes:

*$85,000 for additional cotton t-shirts for Tampa Police to wear as part of their uniform during the Convention.  This brings the total costs of shirts to $219,580.  The t-shirts were pitched because of the hot weather during the month of August.

*$518,460 for respiratory equipment for the Tampa Police Department

*$225,062.86 for tactical communication equipment for the Tampa Police Department

The equipment and shirts are being paid for with a Department of Justice grant designated for Republican National Convention related expenses for the city. 

Also on this morning's agenda, a vote accepting a $5.3 million federally funded subgrant agreement between Florida Division of Emergency Management and the City of Tampa for the RNC.

Most Watched Videos