Mayor: no chaos during 2012 RNC - FOX 13 News

Mayor: no chaos during 2012 RNC


It seems like everyday, we see another video of flash mob violence where criminals organize their crime on social networks, then overwhelm their victims.

They smash out store windows, break into police cruisers, even rob stores en masse.

The whole idea of a flash mob is to create chaos in a flash, surprising police and anyone in their path.

Videos like those are certainly on the minds of the Tampa Police Department. They'll face their greatest challenge ever as thousands of delegates and protestors arrive for the Republican National Convention in August of next year.

Even though it's a year out, police are already training for it. Flash mobs sprouted up at the last RNC convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Tampa's mayor has some tough words for the hard-core protestors.

"There will not be any chaos here. There's not going to be any dumpsters being burned or downtowns being looted. You're going to be allowed to express your opinion. But if you cross that line, you're going to jail," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

Flash mobs typically text, tweet or Facebook each other, detailing time and location to meet. Since June, police have been training to deal with the convention crowds.

But we have experience here in Tampa, with 100,000 visitors for Super Bowls and nearly 400,000 for the big Gasparilla pirate parade. So 45,000 should be easy, right?

Not really. It's a political crowd, with the protestors and professional anarchists that follow.

"We've always had the philosophy, if you break the law, you're going to go to jail. We're going to continue with that philosophy. We're going to prepare for the worst case scenario. Like we do with everything. Like we do with hurricanes, like we do with Gasparilla," said assistant police chief Marc Hamlin.

Police are expected to patrol specifically looking for trouble. But unlike Minneapolis, which welcomed all kinds of protestors, Tampa leaders say they already have spots ready in the county jail for those looking only to destroy the city.

"Not on my watch," Mayor Buckhorn said. "We studied what happened in St. Paul. We will be monitoring daily. We're going to be prepared. We're going to be funded. We're going to be equipped."

During the 2008 convention, 800 protestors were arrested.

"Don't come to Tampa, and if you do, we will deal with you and you may not like it."

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