With the 2012 Republican National Convention approaching in just two short months, significant details regarding the convention and surrounding events in Tampa are beginning to arise. Today, the City of Tampa divulged some of these details with the announcement of the official RNC parade route and designated protest area locations.
The main protest area, or “public viewing area” as the city describes it, will be located about a block northwest of the Tampa Bay Times Forum. It will be bordered by Nebraska Avenue on the west, Walton Street on the north, Caesar Street on the east, and Eunice Street on the south.
There will be another protest area located under the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway along Jefferson Street to accomodate for the large number of protestors many area expecting.
Both these protest areas, also known as “free speech zones” or “free speech pens” due to their fence enclosures, must be within sight and sound of the Tampa Bay Times Forum to be legally permissible according to the U.S. Supreme Court. The city has assured that both protest areas are located within acceptable distances of the Forum.
The 2012 Republican National Convention parade route will start at Washington and Brush Street, head west on Washington, then south on Morgan to Whiting Street, and over to Nebraska Avenue before ending on Walton Street between the two designated protest areas.
The goal of the parade route’s design is to minimize disruption to Downtown Tampa traffic while also providing ample space for protestors. In comparison to conventions in years past, the seven acres the city has designated for protest is quite generous. 2008′s RNC in St. Paul provided just over 4 acres for protestors. The Democratic National Convention in Denver? 47,000 square feet – just over an acre.