TAMPA — The controversial group Anonymous took to the downtown Tampa streets this afternoon as a part of a worldwide protest called the Million Mask March.
A few dozen people protested and marched throughout downtown Tampa, demanding government change. The main message was fair taxes - increasing them for the rich and reducing them for the poor, said Braden Elliott, who participated in the Tampa protest.
Protestors also want to bring attention to police brutality and the war in Afghanistan, where they want all troops withdrawn. They also don’t want any troops on the ground in Syria, Elliott said.
The event was timed to coincide with Guy Fawkes Day, commemorating a revolutionary who was caught before he could blow up the English Parliament in 1605.
Tampa protestors gathered at Kennedy Boulevard and Tampa Street -- next to the downtown Bank of America Plaza -- and marched to the University of Tampa before returning downtown.
“I came out just to show support and solidarity,” said Elliott, 19, of Apollo Beach, who wore a Guy Fawkes mask on the top of his head. “I wanted to make it to Washington, but lack of money kept me here.”
Tampa police had followed the organization’s social media posts and were aware of the planned protest. Anonymous anticipated 200 to 300 people to show up at the Tampa protest, but only about 50 attended, said Laura McElroy, a Tampa police spokeswoman.
Tampa police routinely have four bicycle officers on duty in downtown. For the protest, they had 14, McElroy said, plus another 15 officers on foot patrol, she said.
The protest and march were orderly. There were no reported incidents and arrests, she said.
At the end, protestors were thanking the officers for “watching their backs,” McElroy said.