Business owners address security concerns during RNC - FOX 13 News

Business owners address security concerns during RNC

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Ellen Brown knows a thing or two about free speech. She has more than 40,000 books for sale in her bookstore, the Old Tampa Book Company.

Her downtown Tampa store is on Tampa Street, just a few doors down from Gaslight Square Park.

That park will be one location where protestors will gather for The Republican National Convention.

"I don't think people are coming here to riot. I think they are either coming here to be at the convention, or coming here to have their opinions heard," Brown said.

She plans to be open for the convention, welcoming anyone who wants to shop in her store. Brown said she's concerned about security but says she's optimistic.

"Anything can happen and frankly, if we're open or closed. I mean what am I going to do, board up the store? I don't think so," she said.

Brown attended a meeting hosted by the Tampa Downtown Partnership. About 130 people showed up, mostly business owners, property managers and security officers. They wanted to hear about the convention and the plans for security.

Tampa Police Asst. Chief John Bennett encouraged them to all look at the RNC with their "red, white and blue" glasses.

"You have a true democracy if you can stand in a town square and voice your opinion without anything bad happening to you, and I think that's important to understand," Bennett said.

He says if you work or live in downtown Tampa, you can expect tight security to keep us all safe.

"It's not something we are just going to sit back and respond to. We are going to be very proactive in our law enforcement security package to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to be open that day," Bennett said.

Ellen says she feels the police have a good handle on the situation.

"I think we'll be business as usual, or we'll shut the door and walk out of here," she said.

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