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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Seven Held Briefly in Anti-Romney Protest


TAMPA â€" On the last day of the Republican National Convention, the authorities took into custody seven people who had blocked a roadway Thursday outside a power plant on the eastern edge of Tampa Bay.

In the protest, a group of protesters had chained themselves together in two groups of three and another had chained himself to a vehicle.

Organizers said the protest at Apollo Beach was meant to highlight what they said were Mitt Romney's close ties to energy companies and that participants knew that they faced arrest.

But as officers used a power saw to cut the chains that connected some of the protesters, a major in the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office told about 100 other protesters gathered nearby that he would release the seven who were being detained if the entire group agreed to leave an area near the Big Bend Power Station, which is run by the Tampa Electric Company.

“We don't gain anything from locking anyone up,” said Major Ray Lawton.

Just before 5 p.m., the protesters accepted the offer and began a long walk down a desolate road toward U.S. 41, where their cars and buses were parked.

The protest, which began around 2 p.m., was organized by Earth First, an environmental activist group.

Organizers said they planned the action for Thursday to coincide with Mitt Romney's speech at the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Kirsten Harvey, 22, from Tallahassee, Fla., said that six protesters had lain on the ground at two separate spots near the power plant after clipping caribiners into chains inside lengths of PVC pipe. A seventh man locked himself to a truck displaying a banner that read “You Built This Disaster,” she said, a reference to the coal burning plant and to the “We Built It” slogan being repeated at the Republican National Convention.