Reflections from the EF! coal plant blockade during the Tampa RNC 2012
[*TECO blockader-modified version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s radio hit, as quoted in Tampa Bay Times]
by panagioti, Earth First! Newswire
As the orgy of public relations nightmares for current and aspiring politicians comes to a crescendo of cacophony, nauseating and near impossible to escape, I find myself staying sane by reminiscing on my favorite direct action memories which stand as stark contrasts to the farce of electoral politics. Of course there’s the WTO in Seattle, and the forest defense campaigns of the Northwest, World Bank summits in DC, the anti-NAFTA I-69 roadblocks in Indiana, the FTAA in Miami, the initial days of Occupy Wall Street, the general strikes in Athens… And contrary to my initial expectations, I’m going to have to add this Summer’s RNC in Tampa to that list. Many of both the seasoned and newbie protestors who experienced the convention may not share the positive, uplifting experience. But I would guess that’s because they missed out on the Earth First! action at the end of the week. I think it’s a story worth telling. So, here’s my version, hyperlinks ‘n all:
I have to say, I’m glad I heeded Clinton Tyree’s call for Everglades Earth First! to join with the RNC protests in Tampa Bay this Summer. Even if the whole shindig would have gotten cancelled for a hurricane, I’d have had no regrets. I came ready to strap myself alongside Skink (Tyree’s forest name) and face that storm head-on from the peak of the Sunshine Skyway bridge.
But that moment never came. For better or worse, Tampa was not clobbered by Isaac the Avenger. And I was left antsy to strap myself to something… Could a u-lock on a gypsum struck from the local coal plant do?
After four days of practically non-stop marches in Downtown Tampa and St. Pete, the mobilization’s low energy level was waning further still. While enthusiasm was high, our numbers and energy in the streets were low. The redundancy of marching and rallying amidst swarms of police was getting old, stagnant. I know, you’re shocked by this revelation. Things clearly needed to be shaken up a bit. Luckily I was amidst a handful of other Earth First!ers who were sharing the feeling (ok, so maybe the hand wasn’t quite full). We decided to get busy, and make our small numbers count.