Adam Peck at ThinkProgress writes:
Thousands of Republicans from around the country will descend upon Tampa, Florida next week for the Republican National Convention, and if recent history is any guide, so too will hundreds of protesters.
To prepare, Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee has ordered the Orient Road Jail, a 1,700 bed prison in Tampa, emptied, relocating some inmates to another nearby prison and releasing others on bond. The entire facility has been transformed into a one-stop booking, detention, and bond-issuance center capable of handling large numbers of arrests, which begs the question: will Tampa police keep demonstrators on a short leash?
Will they? Yes.
Is that right? No.
As Peck and others have pointed out, excessive use of force is a persistent problem, particularly at the GOP convention in Minnesota in 2008 and New York in 2004. As an attendee of the GOP convention, it will be bizarre to be on the other side of the “free speech zone” — which, by its very existence, demonstrates the almost Orwellian Newspeak surrounding security measures.
Truthfully, I’m more worried about Hurricane Isaac than any potential violence inflicted by demonstrators. But I fear violence may be inflicted upon them. I encourage demonstrators to download the ACLU Police Tape app, encourage them to write the numbers for ACLU and National Lawyers Guild on their person in Sharpie, and to know their rights as demonstrators and when dealing with law enforcement.
Yes, the GOP has the right to have a convention — no one will dispute that. But protesters have the right to be free of police harassment, intrusive surveillance, and brutality. I hope the mistakes of Minnesota and New York will not be repeated.