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(en) US, Tampa, RNC 2012 explainer: Peaceful anarchists?

Date Wed, 29 Aug 2012 14:40:15 +0300

Protesters took to the streets of downtown Tampa on Monday afternoon in a loosely organized march called Occupy the RNC. ---- While following a city-mandated "parade route," the group simultaneously chanted against corporate greed, government malfeasance and the Republican National Convention generally. ---- Protesters ranged from as young as 14 to several men and women in their 80s. ---- It is worth noting that the approximately 1,800 police officers on the streets of downtown Tampa outnumbered the protesters by about a power of five, making the blocks around the Tampa Bay Times Forum look more like a police state than a convention hub. ---- Watch a sneak peak of Current's convention coverage. ---- Toward the end of the march, a splinter group, referring to themselves as anarchists, made their way to a side street where they regrouped and smoked rolled cigarettes near a row of portable bathrooms while accepting water from Salvation Army volunteers.

Much has been made of the anarchist protestors in Tampa.

A report surfaced days before the convention that anarchist groups had plans to wreak havoc in Tampa by blocking roads, shutting down transit systems and harassing police and pedestrians with eggs filled with acid and balloons full of urine and feces.

The bulletin also warned of a specific group of anarchists from New York City that had plans for blockading bridges.

They don't look that scary in person.

We couldn't help but wonder, what exactly is an anarchist and what are they doing at the Republican National Convention?

This group claimed they just want peace, and, in fact, when confronted by a scrum of counter-protestors — Christian right-wingers that spewed insults and hate speech at them — the anarchists stepped down.

"We will not engage with you," they said. With that, they walked away.

We asked two of them to explain exactly what they came out for in Tampa. Their ideas may not be as fully formed as many protesters' around the country and things may change as this week goes on, but the evidence on Monday showed that this group, at least, was fairly benign in their intentions for violence.

"Anarchism means a system without government. And a lot of people think a system without government would be complete chaos, but I think all governments have done for the world is poison, corrupt and enslave society. ... Our government is taking a giant crap on the Constitution every day," one masked and unnamed anarchist protestor explained above the din of wails from his comrades over the arrival of what they believed was Homeland Security, but was actually a routine drive-by of motorcycle police.

"I am hoping to accomplish peaceful protests like everyone else," he told us, before fleeing down the street.
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