By Joshua Santos | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Joshua Santos
Editor’s Note: Josh Santos is in Tampa covering the Republican National Convention.
As the Republican National Convention gets set to begin on Aug. 27, several political activist groups are also planning to making their voices heard, even with the threat of Tropical Storm Issac.
“Even if it’s really bad, as long as the Republicans are going to be in the Tampa Bay Times Forum, we’re going to be here at Perry Harvey Park,” said Jared Hamil, a 26-year-old activist, union worker and protest organizer.
The Coalition to March on the RNC has been planning for months to stage a protest rally on the same day as the opening of the convention. “What I think we’re going to see are all the different streams of the movement coming together. There is nothing like the Republican convention to bring together everybody who is mad about being driven down, pushed around and sold out,” said Joe Iosbaker, head organizer, as well as the one of the organizers of the of the G8/NATO protest in Chicago earlier this year.
“I think this might be the biggest protest that Florida has seen maybe since the ’72 protest against the Republicans in Miami,” said Iosbaker.
When asked if he was concerned about the more radical groups like Anonymous who are threatening police violence, Iosbaker said, “The real violence going on is the economic violence that is happening to millions of people, the violence that’s done to the family from unemployment, from housing foreclosure, evictions, the violence that’s done when somebody’s mother is deported. That is the real violence going on in this society.”
The protest sets itself apart from other protest groups with its attempt at sending a unified message aimed at the convention. “We can’t afford health care, we can’t get jobs and if we can … you’re just going to barely make ends meet, you’re going to have to get two [jobs] because there aren’t any full time jobs,” said Hamil.
While the protest is being held during an election season, Iosbaker said the movement isn’t about politics, but starting a discussion. “We’re not telling people to vote for the Democrats, the Republicans, or don’t vote or vote third party,” he said. “We don’t have a position on any of those things.” Instead, he said the movement will bring all groups together for one day and try to get people to go out and make informed decisions while voting.
The protest will begin at 10 a.m. on Aug. 27 in Perry Harvey Park in Tampa. More than 40 speakers are scheduled to address the crowd which is estimated to be over 5,000.