PICKET: Why did protesters stand-up the RNC Convention?

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Although most people expected violent if not simply massive protests at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this week, the thousands of protesters law enforcement around Florida prepared for hardly materialized. According to reports, police outnumbered protesters 4 to one. As of now, only three protesters have been made arrested. In fact,one of those arrests happened as a result of one person assaulting another camper in a protest tent city known as “Romneyville.”

The Tampa Bay Times  reported that protesters who made it to Tampa were just as surprised as anyone else that their turnout was so anemic: (bolding is mine)

Most people did not expect so few protesters to attend the Republican National Convention and most certainly did not expect the self-described anarchists to be so conciliatory. Not four years after 800 were arrested during violence at the last RNC, in St. Paul, Minn. Not after the NATO protest in Chicago in May when protesters clobbered police with sticks and police punched back.

But by Wednesday, after several days of marches — permitted and unpermitted — police had arrested exactly three people. The largest demonstration drew 500 protesters at most — far fewer than the 10,000 some had predicted would swarm the city.

“Where are all the protesters? Where are our supporters?” wrote ResistRNC.org on its website Wednesday.

Hurricane Isaac chased many of them away. But activists who travel from one large protest to another say other factors are at work here.

“That $50 million for security and police,” said Yoni Miller, 18, of Occupy Wall Street. “That intimidated a lot of people.”

Some blamed Tampa’s small size, that it was too far south, that it was too hot, that the city doesn’t have good mass transit.

But for whatever reason, as the convention approached its final day, it became clear that the hard-core angry anarchists — the ones who chain themselves together, who smash windows and sometimes rush police lines en masse — had failed to show up at one of the biggest political shows of the year.

Protesters are promising a presence at the at Democratic National Convention, but it appears they are having problems recruiting numbers in Charlotte, North Carolina already. The Charlotte Observer is reporting: (bolding is mine)

Protesters went door-to-door in a low-income west Charlotte neighborhood on Tuesday to face one of their biggest challenges: Convincing the poor to join street demonstrations meant to highlight their struggles.

For weeks, organizers have knocked on doors, visited African-American churches and chatted up bus riders in neighborhoods such as Grier Heights and Hidden Valley to recruit seemingly natural allies to join protests during the Democratic National Convention.

“We’re trying to build a movement,” said Scottie Wingfield, a member of Occupy Charlotte.

But if Tuesday’s recruiting trip were any indication, organizers face some barriers.

Walking up to an African-American woman outside of one townhouse, a white protester called out, “Hey, sister.”

“Sister?” she asked. “It’s ma’am to you.”

The protester apologized, and invited her to Sunday’s March on Wall Street South. When she said she couldn’t walk or stand for long, he invited her to a rally before the march.

One man said he was upset that President Barack Obama may stay in suburban Ballantyne when he visits Charlotte.

“The way the world is now, ain’t nobody helping us,” said Tommy Thomas, 19, a senior at West Mecklenburg High School. “No matter how many people vote, money conquers all. It’s a brainwash to the people, thinking their votes count.”

Thomas said he was glad to see organizers out in his neighborhood, however. “People should have been doing this sooner,” he said.

Grass-roots campaigns struggle to recruit new members from any background, but swaying the poor is especially vexing, experts said.

Some have no faith in the political system. Others must work and have no time for participation. And still others are simply apathetic.

The issue is important because minorities, the homeless, unemployed and others can lend credibility to protest groups sometimes led by college students and people with middle-class backgrounds.

Although the polls have President Barack Obama and Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney neck and neck in the polls it’s becoming clearer that the protests groups are no where close to the numbers they once had and have lost much of their steam. 



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About the Author
Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket

Kerry Picket, a former Opinion Blogger/Editor of The Watercooler, was associate producer for the Media Research Center, a content producer for Robin Quivers of "The Howard Stern Show" on Sirius satellite radio and a production assistant and copy writer at MTV.

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