At first it wasn't very well attended:
News reporters and homeless people outnumbered the protesters:
People stood around waiting to be interviewed:
Or listened to this guy, who had a lot to say:
He claimed to be a college student with a lot of debt, whose parents recently lost their home and were having their pensions cut. He complained about not being able to wear a mask or use a megaphone and kept stressing how everyone had to be nonviolent. He wanted true peace and for disease, destruction, and poverty "to stop".
You'll notice the guy in the video puts his mask on, which according to the protesters was illegal, but nobody seemed to be stopping them.
They seemed very paranoid about the police. I heard one group say the only reason the police hadn't kicked them out of the park was because the news media was there, facilitating their protest. There was an entire group of protestors whose job it was to not get arrested so they could be legal witnesses. They even brought a lawyer:
There was lots of talk about how this was civil disobedience and kind of dangerous. Frankly though, the police didn't seem to care, and I barely saw any officers at the rally. (Usually the park is filled with homeless people, with no police intervention.)
The police were right next door, so if they were going to show up they would have:
Around lunchtime the protest seemed to grow and I was able to get some good shots of individuals:
They had a little sign factory going:
I think some people had signs handed to them. This guy was holding a sign about ending corporate personhood, but all he wanted to talk about was legalizing pot:
Some people started holding signs up along the street:
Other people just mosied around with them:
Others were left out for people to pick up:
I saw their sound-system in action:
And lots of people taking pictures:
The news crews seemed to like interviewing the most colorful people:
Here's a Buddhist monk blogging the protest:
And here's their supply of food:
They seemed to have some plan to stay there overnight, but no one brought tents that I could see.
I got to listen to a media group meeting. Some people were concerned they didn't have a unified message and there was also talk about branding Occupy Tampa:
At one point they started talking about networking on LinkedIn. The irony was lost on everyone.
There was supposed to be a march later, but I had other things to see and do.
I think they should drop the masks. "No one understands what these masks mean", I heard one of them say. I doubt the people wearing the masks know what they mean. And they look a lot more sympathetic without them.
Their agenda seems to revolve around punishing the wealthy. All they talked about was taxing the rich or ending corporate personhood (with the occasional mention of ending wars), but they had no idea what to do afterwards. They had no plans for survival once their goals were met.
It appears to me to be all about revenge, which makes them seem like a hate group. They don't want to reform corporations either. I heard some of them say they only worry about people wearing ties, and others boasting about their lack of titles. Their leaders refuse to call themselves leaders, only facilitators, as if anything associated with business is inherently evil and they are all inherently good.
Most of them had college degrees or were in college. They are wealthy as far as I'm concerned. And their degrees come from institutions subsidized by the working people of this country. They should be doing more useful things with their time than contemplating revenge.