There 61 days until the Republican National Convention, and the boundaries have been set: the City of Tampa revealed the official protest zones and parade route Wednesday.
But they're not exactly close to the Forum, where Republicans will nominate their candidate.
Mike Pheneger with the American Civil Liberties Union spent part of the day taking pictures of the city's new protest zones.
They were just made public: two small areas under the Crosstown Expressway and one larger spot about two blocks from the front door of the forum.
Pheneger says they are not close enough to the Forum.
"No, we're not pleased with it obviously. We'd like to see them get it a lot closer," he said.
Pheneger says he believes the location of the zones are probably the best the city can do in relation to the area controlled by the Secret Service. But he doesn't feel the same about the parade route, which is farther north, away from any activity.
"So you can have a parade, but there's not going to be anyone to watch you. Because the city has kept the demonstrators out from the central part of the city." He said.
Steve Gentile is with Occupy Tampa, and has no plans to stay within the government-mandated protest zone.
"I think the idea of a free speech zone in a free society where speech is supposed to be free everywhere is a little ridiculous," Gentile said.
Demonstrators have protested the city's plans from the beginning.
"I think they think they're being considerate maybe. But the reality is they're more concerned with the interests of people representing the corporations," Gentile said.
And while Pheneger believes the location is okay, he doesn't like the spots themselves: cramped areas, hidden under the roadway, and uneven terrain, with beer bottles, and other debris.
"The problem is it puts the people in very undesirable areas. There's no cover here except for some trees on the south side of the area. There are a lot of hazards in here, just walking in here, there's trash and rebar," Pheneger said.
The city is going to have to clean the protest zones up, to make them safe. And Pheneger says if the city has any plans to fence protestors in—in what he calls, essentially, a cage—he says the city will have even more problems on their hands.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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