Occupy Tampa?

Greetings. It’s sticky warm here in my corner of Brooklyn, and a trip to the grocery provides real sticker shock. Forget the gamed stats from the BLS–if you count inflation to include things like food and energy, we’re bubbling along at around 10%. In the last few years, Peanut butter (a household staple) has advanced from $3.25 to around $4.20 at my local bodega–and the size of the container went from 18 ounces to 16.6.  And it’s going to get worse–due to record drought at high temperatures, we may well be looking at a 40% decline in US corn production.  Remember that it was high food prices that set off much of the rioting around Tahrir Square last year, and all the other protests that followed. And as the Indian Poet said, Civilization is three meals deep.

Of course, the police this week had bigger priorities. Apparently in Los Angeles, the local LAPD decided that drawing on sidewalks with chalk deserved a fusillade of rubber bullets. Buffy, give up on hopscotch for the summer.

On to bigger issues about protest. It has become clear to some people here in Occupy New York that most forms of protest at the conventions (especially the RNC in Tampa) may be well-nigh impossible. Even if the Tampa PD were a benevolent force, the federal laws have been changed around dissent at the Conventions. Last March the House passed (and Obama signed) HR347, a bill that has the effect of criminalizing dissent in areas where the Secret Service is working. People undertaking protest of any sort around the conventions will be facing prison sentences of up to 10 years if they stray into a Secret Service designated area, even if they haven’t done so with intent. Locals have gotten permits for protest and are making their own plans for protest. God Bless them.

I’m an alumnus of University of South Florida, which will be the site of some of the action. I have been contemplating a plan B–that I go down and perform my play to friendly audiences as a way of putting out a competing vision. There are theater groups all around St Pete and Tampa that may be open to a counter-narrative. At the very least it would get some press (I’m guessing that the Tribune and Tampa Bay Times don’t have a lot to cover arts-wise in August).

So that’s where my thinking is right now. In the meantime, the Occupy Tampa folks could use some help.

Welcoming comments here. Peace.

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