Workers and Activists Stage Protests in Tampa
August 30, 2012 8:44 am
The Republican National Convention has fully descended on Tampa, Florida. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie came down hard against teachers’ unions; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker received a standing ovation before his speech even began and Paul Ryan lambasted Obamacare before a fervent crowd. But labor activists are also in Tampa this week, and have staged a number of creative protests in an attempt to balance the anti-union rhetoric of so many of the convention’s speakers.
In the leadup to the convention, Scott Walker addressed the Faith and Freedom Convention. Just after he began his speech, he was forced to stop while a group of protesters chanting, “Walker hates workers,” and carrying various banners (including one proclaiming, “Walkers Has A Koch Problem,”) were unfurled. After the protesters were escorted out of the rally, Walker went on to praise the First Amendment, but call the protesters actions a “disrespectful display of Freedom of Speech.” (Ironically, the constitutionality of Walker’s anti-union ACT 10 is the focus of a lawsuit currently before the 7th Circuit Court of appeals.) Democracy Now has video of the speech and protest.
AFL-CIO activists and supporters marched through Tampa yesterday, stopping intermittently to stage a series of scenes depicting the true repercussions of “Romney’s America.” Scenes depicting attacks on the middle-class, declining working conditions, mounting student debt and voter suppression were enacted as the march weaved through downtown Tampa. The Huffington Post reported on the motivation for the action:
“We’re like Virgil in Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ taking people through Romney’s America,” said Josh Anijar, communications director for the Florida AFL-CIO.
Hundreds of activists and supporters took to the streets for the action.
The AFL-CIO protest was more about the declining middle-class and proposed Republican policies that would accelerate its slide than a pure endorsement of Democrats. In the Huffington Post, Louis Smith, spokesman for CWA Local 3108, is quoted as saying, “We’re not backing Democrats anymore — we’re backing labor-friendly Democrats,” Smith said. “This is a rally against corporate America.”
With next week’s Democratic National Convention being held in Right to Work, low union density North Carolina, it’s unclear whether the Dems will be eager to align themselves as the party of workers. Regardless, the speeches and policies of Walker, Christie, Ryan and Romney clearly demonstrate which party is not.
Image from here