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Politics / Issues

Proposed Ban on Umbrellas, Face Masks and Squirt Guns Protested

About a half-dozen people showed up wearing face-masks and carrying neon colored squirt guns Thursday morning in the shadow of Tampa City Hall.

They used their “visual aids” to demonstrate everyday items that would be banned inside a five mile radius of downtown Tampa if the mayor’s proposed “Clean Zone” ordinance is passed.

Security for the Republican National Convention is a top priority of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn. So, he’s proposing the sweeping ban of items and strict rules like time limits on public demonstrations.

Maria Agosto wore a shade hat, carried an umbrella and a plastic pistol in her waist belt when she addressed reporters in the brick plaza outside City Hall.

“If you look at me and you think well what is it this woman is doing that might be considered illegal? Carrying an umbrella is considered illegal,” Agosto said. “This hat might even be considered illegal because it can be used to deflect something that is coming in my direction.”

She said demonstrators should be allowed to wear broad-brimmed hats and carry umbrellas to shade themselves from Florida’s 90 degree weather of August.

“They’ve said they will only let the police be outside for only one hour at a time because they’re going to be in full riot gear,” Agosto said. “But, we’re not allowed to wear hats or bring umbrellas but we can carry a gun.”

Florida state law requires the city to allow those with concealed weapons permits to carry a gun.

Demonstration organizer the Rev. Bruce Wright of the People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign,” wore a surgical face mask and brandished a neon-colored squirt gun, additional items that would be banned by the ordinance.

“It needs to be stricken, the whole thing, and it needs to be redone with the input of all the organizers that are organizing demonstrations and with the input of the National Lawyers Guild and the ACLU,” Wright said.

Wright said demonstration rules were much more reasonable at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul four years ago.

After about two hours of discussion, Tampa City Council voted to delay their decision on the “Clean Zone” ordinance for two weeks.