Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s administration may be trying to clean up the image of the “Clean Zone” ordinance in the lead-up to the Republican National Convention, but local activists say they aren’t fooled.
The ordinance establishes rules for public protest over the course of the RNC when it comes to Downtown Tampa in August. The mayor proposed protest-free “Clean Zones” throughout the area in early April. Facing widespread outrage, City Council decided to postpone its decision on the controversial issue, which was slated for April 19th. It’s been rescheduled for May 3rd.
Ahead of Tampa City Council’s May 3rd discussion, a longtime Tampa resident who lives across the street from Mayor Buckhorn is sending his neighbor a message regarding protesters’ rights to free speech, especially during massive political gatherings like the RNC. Resident Ronny Elliott hung a large banner in his yard that the mayor would have no problem seeing. The banner reads:
HEY MAYOR, SUPPORT FREE SPEECH!
WELCOME PEACEFUL PROTESTERS TO TAMPA! NO CLEAN ZONE!
Elliott, 65, is a longtime Tampa-based folk musician. He said he decided to hang up the banner after hearing about the “Clean Zone” debate taking place at City Hall. He said he feels the city should welcome people who come to Downtown Tampa to peacefully practice their First Amendment right in the same manner the city welcomes the Republican Party. “This is what democracy is all about,” Elliott said.
The banner is strung directly across from Bob Buckhorn’s home on Davis Islands at 179 Baltic Circle.