A small – very small – contingent of Occupy Wall Street protesters had a demonstration in Tampa near the Republican convention. A few dozen or so of them held signs (“To Hell With Al Qeada. Protect Us From the GOP” was one), chanted slogans but mostly made themselves available for interviews.
Media attention was, some readily admitted, the whole point of their event. They knew nobody from the GOP would listen to them, assuming they even get close enough to talk with Tampa under security lockdown during the event. The contingent of National Guardsmen in full riot gear near their protest did seem excessive to this reporter. They only watched though while the protesters talked with the several local and national reporters who stopped by, including this one.
“Coral” (a man) from Gainesville said he had been with the Occupy movement since it started last year estimated he has three dozen interviews to various media outlets. “How would we get our message through without your help?” he said pointedly.
Yolanda, a protester from Atlanta, wanted to talk about how she had been laid off from her job with Siemens despite being an Iraq veteran. “Somebody needs to pay,” she said.
Apparently several of the other protesters were out-of-staters as well. One Occupier said several had come down from New York for the protest. In other words, the Florida Occupy movement found it necessary to import labor for the event.
Standing on the fringes of the scene, Matt, a Ron Paul supporter, stood filming the event for a documentary he was making. He could only shake his head at the protesters. Matt was down with them on civil liberties and opposing war but found their economic agenda appalling.
“They’re all welfare staters,” he said. “And they don’t want to listen either. It’s like talking to a wall.”