Cops Target Protesters During Traffic Stop

Today, an awesome lady, who has welcomed a few of us NYC occupiers to stay at her house during the RNC, drove us from her house to the Romneyville Camp in Tampa. She stopped in the street near the camp (which is not a busy street whatsoever), and after a couple of the others hopped out and grabbed their stuff out of the trunk, a swarm of bike cops pulled up. This just so happened to be right when a march was leaving the camp. They said that she couldn’t stop in the street, and asked her for her ID. Those who were already out of the car hung around to wait for us, but there were still three of us in the car, plus the driver.

The cops did not tell us to move the car, so it sat in the same place that they were supposedly so worried about it being when they decided to confront us. They stood behind the car, checking her ID, writing information down, and talking on the radio. Most of the time they were just standing around doing nothing productive. About 20 minutes later, one of the officers came back to the car. He asked some questions about the car registration, etc. After all of it was cleared up, he then asked the driver if she was a supporter of “the cause”, and was wondering why she was driving protestors around. She said that yes, she was a supporter, and that she was just giving us a ride to Romneyville. He then gave her ID back, told her that he wasn’t going to write a ticket, but that she shouldn’t stop in the road again.

His comments made it obvious that were targeted. This was only done to intimidate us, and possibly to cause us to miss the march that had just started. We had livestreamers and photographers in the car, and all of us were unable to cover the march because of this unnecessary stop by the police. Later in the day, while we were at another march, the driver of the car ran into one of the police officers who was on the scene of the traffic stop. He told her that she should have driven us to Lowry Park (the Tampa zoo) instead.

I am an independent activist/photojournalist, and I don’t get paid for what I do. If you enjoy getting my updates from the front lines, please consider donating to help out with food, transportation costs, and other necessities. You can donate here. Thank you.

3 Comments on “Cops Target Protesters During Traffic Stop

  1. sounds like they knew you were on your way well before you got there.

  2. Reminds me of Los Angeles in 2000. The first night of the Democratic Convention, the LAPD showed up at the Shadow Convention about 10 minutes before the pirate radio was supposed to broadcast, claiming there was a bomb threat. They spent two hours searching the building (the time of the window for the satellite) and found nothing. They left about 20 minutes after the window for the satellite closed.

  3. Before I go further, know now that I’m completely supportive of the cause and your efforts, but we know that the cops have not only a vested interest but a sworn duty to “protect” the society. There is no doubt that the protests are seen as a direct threat on that society by some, and those “some” happen to be in a position to dictate what constitutes the threat. HOWEVER, that your driver stopped in “the middle of the road” leaves you wide open for police contact – you’re “obstructing the flow of traffic” and this is a common ticketable offense anywhere in the country. That the cops stopped you and then let you go without a ticket tells me that the cops actually treated you pretty decently, all things considered and comparatively speaking. Frankly, it’s barely worth noting that you were “inconvenienced” for 20 minutes. Not disparaging your situation here, just providing a bit of perspective when one recalls the jackbooted response from police in full combat gear we’ve seen elsewhere.
    One suggestion I would offer, as I enjoy immensely your reporting from the front lines, is that I would encourage you not to bias your pieces by coloring the discourse with subjective comments like “smirks on their faces” since most cops stand around with smirks anyway. It detracts from your writing and immediately discounts what you’re writing to those who are reading your words with a sense of objectivity. When you write like this, you’re singing to the choir and the choir already knows and supports your message. The people you want to reach are those who are on the fence and can be swayed by carefully crafted, well reasoned, fact-based journalism. Thanks for your reporting and your efforts.

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