When the news broke on Monday, August 3, in The Tampa Bay Times about the infiltration of protest groups who marched on the Republican National Convention back in August, 2012, there were a lot of ticked off Occupy Tampa people venting on social media.
Not to mention a few journalists, and lawyers, and protest organizers, who were citizens speaking out about government policies in general, but pinpointing affordable healthcare, good jobs with living wages, peace on earth, racial and social tolerance and voting rights.
Some of these concerned citizens had organized Occupy Tampa. Occupy Tampa organized here in Tampa right on the timeline of the emerging Occupy groups around the country.
Occupy New York, Occupy Seattle, Occupy Chicago, and Occupy Oakland were making headlines around the country with news coverage of protests which had turned violent, and at one point, it seemed they were all clamoring to be the big voice of the many occupiers.
But the Occupy Tampa group had a big trump hand in the pecking order of the the Occupy movement i.e. the city of Tampa would host the RNC (Republican National Convention in August of 2012.
Despite contention and strife in Occupy groups around the nation, Occupy Tampa held their own here. even though the Tampa City Government and the Tampa Police Department did all they could to persuade the group to just leave, please by denying the group the rights to demonstrate and/or camp in public parks and streets.
But Occupy Tampa was granted sanctuary by Joe Redner, a locally prominent strip club owner who owned a parcel of land which included a small park in West Tampa, surrounded by little bars where you could get a beer and a shot of tequila for a buck, bodegas, street gangs and more spice and crack dealers than you could throw a warrant at.
The Occupy Tampa people conducted their business there and made plans to march on the RNC. opened a community kitchen and created a beautiful garden in an adjacent alley.
But in the process they raised the ire of neighboring folks by trashing the little parcel of land. Tents were ramshackle, garbage was strewn around, people came and went at all hours.
The neighbors complained to local authorities that the Occupy camp looked awful, smelled worse, and was drawing too much attention from the media and from the Tampa Police Department who basically had the place surrounded night and day.
Then the other organizers came. From around the country they arrived with proclamations, and plans to march on the RNC along with some demands of their own. And they wanted a piece of the action, and some of that white hot media focus.
Students For a Democratic Society, Veterans For Peace, Get Equal, Code Pink (an anti-war group) and other smaller groups with no monikers, just a desire to be involved.
All of this was alright with Occupy Tampa…but Occupy Tampa declined to sign any papers/or proclamations aligning themselves philosophically with the new groups.
Most likely a very a wise move as it now appears, according to the The Tampa Bay Times story on last Monday – which had previously been revealed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer a week before – many of those new people were undercover agents who had not only been sent to infiltrate Occupy Tampa….but to pose as other protester groups and initiate direct actions.
Direct actions in social protest lingo means basically making things go bump in the night i.e. create something unpredictable and frightening. Some things like burning buildings, making lots of noise, smashing windows and in general creating enough civil unrest to assure there would be mass arrests and much media attention blasted around the planet.
The undercover agents according to the news reports were basically government henchmen who were sent here not only to infiltrate the leadership of protest groups, but also to initiate direct action, and wreak havoc, which would, have had severe consequences for the people who simply wanted to peacefully protest, as well as give the city of Tampa a huge black eye.
Instead, and fortunately for the city of Tampa, the convention, which lasted an entire week, went off remarkably well,
A surprise to everybody involved in the convention process, including the police, the fifty-thousand convention delegates,the fifteen-thousand journalists, the National Guard, the Secret Service and no doubt Occupy Tampa, the other protest groups, and of course, the FBI
There were exactly two arrests. No riots, no beatings, no pepper spraying, no explosions, no shootings, window breaking. no civil unrest, no widespread media coverage of a city gone wild.In short, no bumps in the night.
It went off remarkably well because everybody involved did their jobs well.That includes the Tampa Police, The RNC delegates, the journalists. and even those imposters posing as infiltrators…the would be agitators.
Those infiltrators, who were supposed to make things go bump in the night, well you might say,that even though they were not able to create mayhem, they got it done half right, because nobody even knew they were here.