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RNC Voices on the Street: Tampa is Fenced In


There's still one full day of events left in the Republican National Convention, but it's not too early to begin assessing how the region fared. And, Tampa was not as welcoming as it could have been in the eyes of a fourth-generation resident.

“It has been a whirlwind. Fences went up very quickly, barriers went up very quickly” Tampa City Councilwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin said. “Within I would say 24 to 48 hours, this city completely changed in my eyes.”

“I’m afraid if the purpose was to show off our downtown, if you look at Curtis Hixon Park, it is totally blocked off from view. You cannot see the river. You cannot see the minarets,” Capin said.

She said the security barriers give the city a sense of being “fenced in.”

Downtown Tampa is a ghost town. Few people are walking around, all the government offices are closed and many business offices are on reduced hours. That means there are fewer customers than hoped for at the downtown restaurants and bars.

“There’s a lot of catering businesses that are doing extremely well,” Capin said.

“Some of them are doing a year’s worth of business from here.”

She said the hope is that the RNC will bring some long-lasting benefits.

Across the bridge in Gulfport, they’re seeing few RNC benefits.

“I think the hurricane kind of put a damper on things, hopefully it’ll pick up and get some better business,” said Jonathan Summers, the chef at Pierre’s in Gulfport. “Maybe after the weekend and everybody is done with their convention stuff, they’ll come down to the restaurant.”

Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.
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