Tampa sees few arrests as RNC continues

by: Blair Miller Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Every day this week, Eyewitness News has seen demonstrators lining the streets of Tampa, and police watching closely.

Protesters have been camped out this week in what they call “Romneyville.” Their determination is clear, and at times this week, their voices have been loud.

At any political convention, protesters are expected and arrests are common.

But in Tampa this week, as of Thursday afternoon, police have made just two arrests and had relatively few problems.

Curtis Hunt has been staying there all week.

“I think it's been very peaceful because we got the message across to the officers here that we are here for peace, and we're also able to police ourselves,” Hunt said.

But maybe it was the threat of a hurricane earlier this week that kept some away.

“I think it kept people from coming,” Terry Rose said. “I also think in the beginning, it helped to establish a better relationship with police because all of us, we are a lot more calmer.”

The police presence is strong, with nearly 4,000 law enforcement officers in and around Tampa. Many of those officers have been surprised by such few problems so far, like Sgt. Jesse Warren.

“I just think we were ready,” Warren said. “We have officers on every street corner. So I believe that has prevented a lot of stuff.”

Four years ago, both conventions included hundreds of arrests. In Denver at the DNC, police arrested 154 people.  In Minneapolis at the RNC, there were more than 800 -- half of those on the last day.

And with the convention ending Thursday, the focus will soon shift north, as the sign in “Romneyville” says, “Next stop: the DNC in Charlotte.”

Charlotte officials said they have noticed the low numbers in Tampa. They worry some of the protesters stayed home this week because of the threat of the storm and that next week, they will be in Charlotte.