Protestors "Occupy Tampa" Park
|Protestors make their feelings known|
Several hundred people camped out in downtown Tampa's Lykes Gaslight Park as part of the Occupy Wall Street movement. They call themselves "Occupy Tampa."
They marched in solidarity with the New York City-based anti-corporate demonstration that has been going on for several weeks.
It's barely past 9 a.m. and already a couple hundred people are milling about the park, nestled in the heart of cluster of corporate towers.
The bongos are being drummed as one man greets cars driving down Tampa Street wearing a ghoulish mask from the movie "V for Vendetta." His placard reads: Corporate Greed has corrupted our government and society. Another woman hold a sign saying "We the People, not the corporations."
Nearby, a group huddles under the shade of an oak and chew on some weighty issues, like globalization and the demise of American manufacturing. One called corporate outsourcing "unpatriotic."
Doug Lyda is a retired Air Force serviceman who says he's never participated in a mass protest movement before.
"My hope from this type of grassroots organization," he says, "is that corporate America gets embarrased enough that they start bringing back - I mean, there are a million call center jobs. Just call center jobs. Excactly. Tampa was known for its call center jobs, and they're starting to come back - but not enough. If we could just embarrass corporate America to bring back those jobs from overseas."
George Newman says by outsourcing jobs overseas, corporations are starving much of the very same middle class they need to buy their products.
"I don't understand why corporations don't get it, that if the middle class disappears, there's going to be nobody to buy stuff," says Newman. "So it's going to hurt them unless they can sell globally. LYDA: Exactly. And so that's why I think groups like this might embarass them and awaken that sense of humanity in them. Hopefully."
Lyda says every protest movement starts out with just a few devoted followers. He noted the original New York City protest has grown over the past few days.
"Every social movement - the folks in Libya and Egypt - they probably had people saying, Are we blowing in the wind? Everything starts with blowing in the wind, and either it rises or it doesn't," says Lyda. "There was a few people in New York two weeks ago - I mean just a handful of people. And we were thousands last night."
Newman says these kind of rallies are a wake-up call to Washington. He says lawmakers seem to be interested only in bailing out large corporations, at the expense of things like extending unemployment insurance and health care for those who are trying to eke out a living.
"We're your usual, normal American people living our lives however it is, trying to get ahead - good luck with that," says Newman. "We're looking to be heard. We're looking to be noticed that this can't go on. This has got to stop."
Newman has been out of work for a year after working as an operations manager. He's now trying to help a friend startup a software company, but he can't find an investor.
"The banks won't talk to us, the investors are holding on to their money," he says. "They're putting it in other things. They're not investing in this country."
That's not what some other people think. Presidential candidate Herman Cain spoke about the Occupy Wall Street protests during a visit yesterday to St. Petersburg. He later told the Wall Street Journal the protestors are "anti-capitalism":
"I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama Administration," says Cain. "Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."
This is the second time the group has protested in downtown Tampa. They plan to return to the park Friday and Saturday.
To see a video of the gathering in Tampa, click here.
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