Protests like the violent outbursts in Twin Cities in 2008, the site of the last Republican National Convention, are part of what people expect to see in Tampa this August.
Monday was the deadline for protest groups to apply for permits with the city. With such a huge event coming to town, you'd think there'd be an overwhelming response to gather or protest during the RNC, but the city said it's been surprisingly light.
And it's who we haven't heard from, who may just show up and disrupt, that has people worried.
There wasn't exactly a rush at city attorney Jim Shimberg's door.
"We weren't sure exactly what to expect," said Shimberg.
The city wanted to give groups plenty of time to plan, but wonders if it started too early in the process?
Shimberg said the city had a handful of applications as of Monday, then late in the day, about 20 more came in and just made the deadline. Shimberg said many groups may not be organized yet.
"We've decided to make the parks available for the entire day, for groups, so there wouldn't be any conflict, in terms of when their time was over and when another group was coming in," said Shimberg.
One of the most requested spots in the city is Curtis Hixon Park. But that's already been contracted to the RNC, along with 14 other sites, through their deal with the city.
"It seems to be Lykes Gaslight Park right now," said Shimberg. "Seems to be the one that's getting the most attention."
That just happens to sit next door to the Tampa Police Department. Joe Chillura Park, down the street, is also highly requested.
"Which is a county park," said Shimberg. "But the city is going to be operating it that week. We're going to hold that park aside for spontaneous events, or for groups that don't have permits."
Even though groups have reserved permits, the parks will still be open to the public.
"The permits are going to be non-exclusive," said Shimberg, "which means that anybody else would still be able to come to park. However, you would not able to disrupt the event that was permitted."
So far, only three groups have asked for permits to hold parades during the convention. Where that parade route will go, has not been decided yet.
"We're going to have an official parade route for groups that sign up for a parade, the parades would be up to 90-minutes long," said Shimberg.
"All of it's just a big headache," said Dennia Luna, who told us he wants to steer clear of all the crowds that week. Still, he admits it's great for the city.
"Oh yeah, it'll bring us a lot of business," said Luna. "It'll be real big, similar to when the Super Bowl was here. It was crazy then."
The city will hold a lottery this coming Friday in council chambers to determine which groups get which parks.
There is also a waiting list in case any of those candidates decide at the last minute not to use their designated space.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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