Which Political Convention Will Be 'Occupied?'

Zol87/CC BY 2.0
Site of the 1968 Democratic Convention Riots.

The 2012 Republican National Convention will be held in Tampa, Florida, beginning August 27, 2012. Florida's Republican Governor, Rick Scott, has acquired the reputation of being a tough, no compromise fellow and he's not a fan of business regulation. Governor Scott has, however, made Everglades protection a top priority. (See Palm Beach Post coverage of his latest pledge.)

A month after the GOP convention in Tampa, the 2012 Democratic Convention will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. That State's Democratic Governor, Beverly Perdue, is noted to have been "chief sponsor for such important initiatives as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund." (See 2008 IndyWeek.com story for details.)

Weather's likely to be bad for camping in both places.
Both locations will be hot and humid. It will be hurricane season. Have you ever slept in a nylon tent when it's rainy and 95 degrees F and there's no way to get dry? Ughhh.

Hippy factories.
University of South Florida, located in Tampa, is a good sized research institution with interesting architecture and urban transportation programs.

University of North Carolina--Charlotte is also a large campus with strong research programs. They have an interesting looking Infrastructure, Design, Environment and Sustainability Center. A bio-fuel program as well.

Probably some potential occupier recruits in both places.

Ground truths.
The Uptown area of Charlotte NC could be a risky place to hang out or sleep outdoors. The local Fox station reported that "After several days of national headlines pointing to worries of gang violence in the same vicinity where the 2012 Democratic National Convention will be set up, [Police Chief] Monroe said at a Tuesday press conference that gangs were in Uptown Saturday night."

Convention activities in Tampa will all be be on a peninsula: surrounded, maybe, by American alligators and Burmese pythons. . According to the Charlotte Observer, (writing about both conventions)

In neither Tampa nor Charlotte has the Secret Service defined the convention's security perimeter, a boundary that will define logistics for delegates, residents and protesters. But Tampa's geography offers a clue...

Both are at the tip of a peninsula bounded on two sides by water and a third by the twin spans of an elevated expressway. Delegates will convene in the St. Pete Times Forum. Most of the 15,000 media members will work a block away at the 600,000 square-foot Tampa Convention Center.

"You can assume that the security bubble will probably encompass all of this," said Buckhorn, sketching a rough map of the venues in his City Hall office. "Not too many protesters are going to want to swim to the Forum. Their signs are going to get wet."

History's lesson.
I well remember the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. It was a bloody scene- at times more Civil War battle than protest. Reporters were roughed up to prevent them covering the protests because, as the police and Mayor of Chicago then realized, 'The Whole World Is Watching.'

That '68 Democratic convention was a tipping point for enactment of numerous laws and for driving major changes in American culture forward: creating the very conditions now viewed as status quo. These changes are the very changes culture warriors on the right have been trying desperately to reverse - including environmental and safety protections. (What's new in that regard is that the main environmental issues are global instead of local or state in scale.)

Black Swan prospects.
A tropical storm or hurricane certainly would prompt interviewers to bring up climate change. So would a worsening drought in the Tampa area.

Maybe Occupy movement planners will bypass the bad weather, the gators, and the gang bangers, and have their own convention - one sure to be more friendly for all manner of visitors and delegates.

Tags: Activism

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