Parade route set for RNC
TAMPA - The city of Tampa has released the official parade route and public viewing areas that protesters will use during the Republican National Convention in August. The parade route stays clear of the heart of downtown to reduce disruptions of traffic and daily life, city officials said. But the route also sends marchers through a sun-blasted landscape of parking garages, industrial sites and empty lots where their messages won't find a ready-made audience of downtown workers. "It's in a terrible part of town," said Amos Miers, part of Resist the RNC, which plans to march each day of the convention.The official parade route starts at East Washington and North Brush streets near the Rampello parking garage. It runs west on Washington to Morgan Street, then loops back east on Whiting Street to Nebraska Avenue. It runs south on Nebraska, past the Con-Agra flour mill, to Walton Street. The parade route will be open from midnight Aug. 27 to midnight Sept. 1. The convention ends Aug. 31. Parades will last 90 minutes. Miers said his group has no interest in using the city-sanctioned route. It will take its message to downtown sidewalks and go where it pleases, he said. "We're not going to follow their little purple line," Miers said, referring to the color the city used to designate the route on its map. "If groups that are endorsing us want to use that route, they're welcome to request a permit and do so." The final plan for the Secret Service's security perimeter around the convention remains uncertain. City officials have said they expect to learn more next month. In the meantime, public viewing areas will be set up on about seven acres of parking lots north of Brorein Street. One is on a wedge of land created by Brorein, Jefferson Street and the Selmon Expressway with an extension that runs under the expressway to Nebraska. The other lies between Nebraska and Caesar Street and covers two blocks from Brorein north to Walton Street. By law, the public viewing areas must lie within sight and sound of the convention venues. They will be open 24 hours a day. The city will provide a stage and sound system, city spokeswoman Ali Glisson said. To create the public viewing areas, the city is leasing several parking lots. It expects to be repaid from the $50 million federal grant that is covering security expenses. The city's Event Zone ordinance bans a litany of items from the public viewing areas, including aerosol cans, weapons, camping gear, coolers, lasers, ladders and metal-tipped umbrellas. People in the viewing area and on the parade route will be allowed to wear masks, though masks are banned elsewhere in the Event Zone. Miers compared the viewing areas, which he said will be fenced, to cages. "The state shows its true face at events like these," he said.
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