The Republican National Convention is still weeks away, but already the City of Tampa is threatening to evict some protestors who are camped out downtown.
They've dubbed their camp "Romneyville,"and say they aren't going anywhere.
Some of the people living in those tents are homeless folks who've been recruited to help protest during the RNC. But the city told them they have to go because they are violating commercial district codes.
In the shadows of newly-planted RNC palm trees, lies their small, pink-colored encampment that has the City of Tampa seeing red.
"Code enforcement came in stating that, if this wasn't cleared off this property in two days, they would bring a truck and move everything and put a lien on the property," said Reverend Gregory Lockett, who's with the Poor People Economic Rights Campaign.
But the PPERC said they're going to stand their ground no matter what. They paid the owner of the Army Navy Surplus store $1,500 to lease what is essentially his backyard on Tampa Street for four months.
"I love the brother," said owner Nick Potamitis,. "But the thing about it, dead presidents make anybody forget about what might happen."
"So the money talked first?," we asked.
"Yes!", he enthusiastically replied.
Potamitis was busy with customers and told us he has nothing to say and that his hands are tied, thanks to the contract he signed.
"Any contract can be broken, but it's to the letter of the law. But by the time they break it, it'd be a year and a half from now," Lockett said.
The RNC would be long gone, and so would they.
Folks like Jorge Gonzalez are living in the 5'X5' bright, pink tents, which a donor bought from a local Girl Scout troop.
"It's not hot!," said Gonazlez. "It's very cool at night actually."
He said it's about 70-degrees inside the tents at night.
"No mosquitoes, no ants, it's good!," he laughed.
But by the time the RNC rolls around, it will look like a small village, with dozens of tents and hundreds of protestors.
"There's gonna be three other peaceful organizations coming in, Code Pink, the Green Party, other organizations like that, non-violence," Lockett said.
There are rules that are spelled out clearly when you walk in: no drugs, alcohol, violence, or visitors, once you're checked-in for the night. They're under surveillance 24/7, and no one will be allowed in or out after 10 p.m.
"We are activists, and we are the warriors for the people, we peacefully fight against injustice and for people striving to survive," said Lockett.
We called the City's Code Enforcement department, but no one was available to comment Friday afternoon on what's next. The encampment is still there and legally, it sounds like they may be here to stay through the RNC.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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