TAMPA, Fla. – Cries of outrage erupted from the streets Monday in Tampa, Fla., as state troopers created human walls to block Republican National Convention protesters from crossing the intersection of Tampa Street and Kennedy Boulevard.
About 30 protesters banged pots and pans together to draw attention to their demonstration, held signs bearing messages such as “Food Not Bombs” and chanted for equality during a rally held by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, which aimed to draw awareness to the concerns of the unemployed.
When single mother Tammy Langely heard a protest rallying for the rights of poor and unemployed individuals was occurring near her home in St. Petersburg, Fla., she knew she needed to be protesting alongside fellow human rights advocates in the streets.
As a resident of Florida, she said she has noticed an increase in homeless individuals sleeping under bridges as she drives home from work late at night. Despite her ability to feed her 16-year-old daughter, Langely said she can understand the struggles of those can hardly feed themselves.
“Since a lot of us are one paycheck away from being homeless, it’s just really rough,” Langely said.
Langely said because the homeless are no longer allowed to panhandle, or approach strangers and ask for money, in Tampa due to a recent ordinance, they are left with few means of survival and the goal of the protest was to bring awareness to their plight.
The demonstration began at about 4 p.m. and as time passed, it attracted more than 30 members of the media and about 60 police officers who created layers of human blockades to prevent the protest from spreading.
According to the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign’s mission statement, the goal of the movement is to unite poor across party lines and end poverty, emphasizing all individuals’ rights to food, education and housing.
A state trooper from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office of south Florida said the officers do not intervene in protests “unless instructed otherwise,” but declined to comment further.
As for Los Angeles resident Kevin Patten, 27, who held a Ron Paul sign in his hands as he marched, he felt his presence was needed in Tampa to create ties between individuals from the coasts protesting for the same thing — equality amongst all classes.
“(We hope) to wake people up, slap them upside the head and get them out of their apathy and just do the research and think about (ending poverty),” Patten said.