City of Tampa to assign protesters to parks for Republican National Convention

Protest group plan ice sculpture during RNC

TAMPA - When the RNC comes to town during Tampa's sweltering August, part of the protest will be carved in ice.

"Main Street Meltdown" was created by artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese. The ice sculpture installation took place in front of the New York State Supreme Court Building on the 79th anniversary of the Great Depression. Reese says Tampa's protest piece or "temporary monument" will feature a melting ice sculpture called "Middle Class."

The city says it's considering 9 permits, but protestors won't have first dibs on city parks -- the Convention will.

The provision was set when Tampa won the Republican National Convention bid.

A contract between the Tampa Bay Host Committee and the City of Tampa meant the Convention could choose which parks it wanted for events first. The agreement has drawn criticism from protest groups.

"It was in consideration for the RNC picking the Host city to be Tampa so from that perspective I don't want to say our hands were tied, but it was part of the bid package," said Host Committee CEO Ken Jones.

The Convention released or cleared four of the nine parks on the list for permits. They include Herman Massey Park, Perry Harvey Park, Lykes Gaslight Park and MacDill Park on the Riverwalk. Joe Chillura Park will be reserved for "spontaneous" gatherings.

Planned Parenthood, the AFL-CIO, and the SEIU have all applied for one-day events.

"One of the reasons we tried to do this early was because in talking to other cities that have hosted Conventions, some of the criticism they got was groups didn't have enough time to plan," said Tampa City Attorney Jim Shimberg.

Curtis Hixon Park is reserved for official Convention events -- no word on what that is yet.

What is for certain, artists like Ligorano and Reese are on their way to Tampa where their protest could be short-lived in the Florida sun.

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