Florida lawmakers agreed to set aside an extra $2.3 million in federal money to make 1,750 members of the state National Guard available for the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month.
The Legislative Budget Commission approved the additional spending authority for the state’s Department of Military Affairs. The cash comes from $50 million earlier approved by Congress for each of the national conventions, Republicans, Aug. 27-30 in Tampa and Democrats, Sept. 3-6 in Charlotte, N.C.
As many as 1,750 troops will be available to assist Tampa-area law enforcement agencies with security and other matters, said Glenn Sutphin, lobbyist for the Department of Military Affairs. He said troops will come from Pinellas Park, Lakeland and the Orlando area.
“We’ll be there solely in a support role,” Sutphin said. “You won’t see a lot of us on the street.”
The city of Tampa was scheduled to give a demonstration Thursday of their security preparations, giving members of the public a look at K-9 units, bike patrols and other members of “crowd-management units” that will be deployed during the convention.
Demonstrators who have dubbed themselves the Coalition to March on the RNC announced Wednesday they plan to have 5,000 people march without confrontation through downtown Tampa on August 27th.
Plenty of other protests also will surround the Tampa Bay Times site of the convention. Occupy RNC, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, will be there. Planned Parenthood is hosting a rally at nearby Centennial Park during the convention, while Doctors of America plan to protest at another downtown park.
On Tampa’s Riverwalk, MacDill Park has been chosen as the site where a 20-foot block of ice is to be carved, forming the words “Middle Class.” Protestors intend to let it melt in the sun.