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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A More Lighthearted Protest Overnight


TAMPA, Fla. - The protesters began assembling just before 11 p.m. on Monday night, with people arriving in twos and threes at Centennial Park, in Ybor City, until there were about 100 of them gathered in the darkness a block away from one of the city's main night life areas.

Earlier in the day there had been two marches meant to protest the Republican presence in Tampa that had focused on issues like poverty, wars and abortion. But this gathering, which was intended to criticize capitalism and included some people who said they were anarchists, had a more lighthearted feeling; it was even billed as a roving radical dance party, and participants brought with them a boombox, noise makers and a few cardboar d masks meant to resemble a spider, a jaguar and praying mantis.

“We are all predators,” said Nathan Pim, who wore a mask in the shape of a hammerhead shark. “Which means we are all capitalists.”

A group of people walked across East Eighth Avenue carrying a papier-mâché replica of an elephant that was painted gold. They set the sculpture on the sidewalk, and soon a crowd was dancing around it.

“It's just like the golden calf,” said the object's creator, Dave Gonzalez. “It symbolizes the Republican Party's worship of money above all else.”

At around 11:30 p.m. the crowd took to the streets, with a woman near the front of the group brandishing a black flag emblazoned with a red heart. They danced over trolley tracks, first heading west, then doubling back several times.

One of the marchers, Joshua Kaupilla, said that the march was meant to reawaken a sense of exuberance that for many was deadened by daily routines.

“There's that human, animal sense in each of us that we've forgotten in our cubicles and commutes,” he said, as he danced over a cobblestone roadway. “It's full of joy and full of sorrow.”

Police officers on bikes and in cars followed and at times set up roadblocks to prevent the group from turning up certain streets, including one that led to a spot where protesters said that Republican delegates were holding an event.

Instead the group surged down the middle of East Seventh Avenue, a stretch packed with bars and restaurants, chanting “Off the sidewalks and into the streets” and “We are the source of all your wealth,” before pausing to dance to a rock band that was performing inside an open window at a bar called Gaspar's Grotto.

The group marched and danced past 1 a.m. Tuesday and then dispersed, announcing that they would reconvene later on Tuesday.