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Response to City Council regarding the Green Zone ordinance revision
The revisions to the draft Green Zone ordinance is a start. We understand there are logistical issues that need to be addressed and some form of ordinance will be necessary in a system such as ours to manage the function of the city. That is where the scope of the ordinance should end.
We are opposed to the continued existence of a Green Zone. Sure the name changed and some details of its character altered. However it misses completely the fact that it attempts to legalize and legitimize a pre-emptive assault on our fundamental rights. Rights we are born with. All items that “could” be used as a weapon only become one in the act of a crime itself, not before. Yet the ordinance claims to give law enforcement special powers of reading the future to determine if someone has the prior “intent” to do harm.
What is lacking in our current legal framework that does not already outline what is unacceptable, dangerous and unlawful behavior that requires a full attack on our civil liberties? If someone wishes to smash a window, or pee into a water gun and squirt it on someone, is that not already defined in our current laws as illegal? Bob Buckhorn himself declared that 99.9% of the people will be demonstrating peacefully. So why do we need such drastic laws to protect us from the .1%, or the 30 or so people whom the City seems to be so fearful of? Is $50,000,000 worth of security measures not enough for 30 people that we also need to eradicate the rights of the remaining 29,970 innocent people looking exercise their first amendment rights and subjecting them to the brutality of law enforcement?
Are 4000 law enforcement officers and 1700 national guard not enough for two and a half dozen potentially harmful people? Is it required that a Green Zone be established, along with a new uniform for law enforcement comprised of desert colors? Is it not clear that we are bringing the war on terror home? Is it not clear the problem is created by poor legislation itself?
We are concerned more with the violence that the law enforcement bring to events such as this, which is not being addressed. Out of 5700 “troops”, we know that 10% of them are looking for trouble and will engage the protesters unprovoked, and 10% of those will cross the line to attack innocent people, and of those 10% will not be controllable and are a serious threat to our safety. Those 5 or 6 officers will seriously injure or possible kill someone at the RNC in August.
Law enforcement will do this regardless of the ordinance. They have done it at an escalating rate for all of the recent National Special Security Events, and we know that law enforcement from surrounding cities are being instructed by the Tampa Police Department during training exercises for the RNC that they (and we quote), “will be protected if they crack skulls and the funds were ready to defend them.”
What are the people supposed to do to protect themselves? All defensive measures are being outlawed in this ordinance. The people have the right to defend themselves from their government, especially when laws are being crafted in advance that are designed to threaten their welfare. The people should and will bring gas masks and other tools required to protect themselves. That right is non-negotiable and we will not allow it to be written away.
And if attacks on the First Amendment were not enough, the Second is now under attack. Our second protects our first, and we will not back up; we will not stand down. We will not give up our rights for 1 minute much less 4 days.
The City of Tampa invited the Republican Party to our city for their convention. The GOP is renting our forum and our convention center. Why do they get our City Council, our law enforcement and our streets? They can peacefully assemble in the building they rent. They don’t rent the town. We pay for it, we work in it, we play in it and we live in it. We will not give it away, that is ours.