Thursday, August 30, 2012

Republicans convene in Florida in 2012...what a difference 40 years makes

Tampa police, Aug. 27, 2012.
Photograph by Tamara Lush.

When the Republicans convened in Miami Beach in 1972 to nominate Richard Nixon, police arrested more than 1,000 protestors.

Fast forward to the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa.

From the Tampa Bay Times:
TAMPA — To prepare for an expected 1,000 protester arrests during the Republican National Convention, the Hillsborough sheriff's office paid $140,349 for software that would alert deputies if an inmate had been sitting in one place for too long.

To treat the injured, they paid $240,000 for medical staff. They bought a new fence, food and electrical updates, and got a green light to spend $1.5 million in overtime pay.

Then this week, on a dry-erase board in their flat-screen-filled command center, they began to tally the arrests. The grand total, by mid-day Thursday:


That's right. At the Republican convention four years ago in St. Paul, 800 were arrested. Eight years ago in New York, 1,800. But Thursday, Hillsborough Col. Jim Previtera could rattle off his booking list in one breath:

The guy with the machete. And the kid with the bandana.
"Bandana Boy" was arrested because he refused a police order to remove his face covering. The Associated Press sent out a dispatch reporting that he was arrested "when he refused to take off a banana covering his face."

The Times story goes on to say that some $50 million in federal grant money has been spent on security for the Republican confab.

Fifty million dollars. Two arrests. Do the math.

The Tampa cops, it appears, are going out of their way not to arrest anyone.

And the protestors, according an on-the-scene source, aren't exactly trying to get busted.

Yesterday, they held a "F**k the police" march.

The cops followed them.

As the march ended, some of the protestors decided they wanted to hook up with a group of union members who were organizing a protest at another location. But the marchers soon realized they had no idea how to get to there. They had to ask the cops for directions.

It was a different story in Miami Beach in 1972.

Photojournalist, Miami Beach, Aug. 1972.

From the Tampa Bay Times:
Photo by Andy Kay.
(Click to enlarge)
San Diego was originally scheduled to host the Republicans, but the GOP abandoned California after the embarrassing revelation that technology company ITT would give $400,000 to the convention in return for favorable treatment in a pending antitrust investigation.

Instead, Miami Beach, a garish strip of oceanfront hotels, 7 miles long and a mile wide, was the center of the political universe that summer.

Hippies and yippies, neo-Nazis and "women's libbers," Jane Fonda and Jerry Rubin, Strom Thurmond and Dr. Spock, H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman — they all descended on the retirement haven of 87,000.
Democrats nominated McGovern in mid July, and Republicans renominated Nixon ("Now More than Ever") in late August at a Republican event that became a magnet for protesters, officially known as "non-delegates."

They pitched tents at Flamingo Park, five blocks from Miami Beach Convention Hall, and some of them burned the American flag, smoked pot in public and skinny-dipped in a city swimming pool.
Covering the convention for the Tampa Bay Times (then the St. Petersburg Times), Eugene Patterson described the contrast of "bra-less SDS girls in blue jeans denouncing capitalism and Nixonettes in trim blue and red uniforms."

Photograph by Anne Dockery.

The Miami News, Aug. 24, 1972.

The Miami News, Aug. 24, 1972. (Click to enlarge)

Miami News cartoon by Don Wright, Aug. 24, 1972. (Click to enlarge)

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