Activists from San Francisco and around the country are descending on Tampa this week to protest the Republican National Convention. I got a call this morning from Diamond Dave Whitaker, the poet who hung with the beats and the hippies in his 75 years, CCSF student senator and San Francisco legend. He's has been serving food to protesters at election-season conventions for almost three decades. His first was 1984, the Democratic Convention here in San Francisco before he got hooked and headed to Dallas to protest the Republicans. Along with a few hundred others, Diamond Dave braved the rain, but missed the full effects of Hurricane Isaac on the tent city last night. The RNC starts officially starts today (though many of the day's events have been called off due tot the hurricane warning.)
“I’m talking in the midst of Romneyville,” he said. “Folks came from far and wide to camp out together, cause a ruckus and be here.”
What’s Romneyville? “It’s a homeless camp, a poor peoples camp,” said Dave. He’s been there a week setting up the Food Not Bombs kitchen, and Romneyville grew up around him. It now has few hundred tents, he said. But most people arrived today, so as the convention gets started, it will probably grow. “Two buses from Zuccotti Square came today,” he said.
Romneyville is put together in part by the Poor Peoples Economic Human Rights Campaign . Dave said Green Party vice presidential nominee Cheri Honkala, a formerly homeless mother herself who works with the Poor Peoples campaign, is a fixture around the camp.
"Our demands are housing for all, food for all, healthcare for all, and living wages for all. We call for an end to foreclosures and homelessness, an end to the war on the poor, both here and abroad. An end to criminalization of poverty. Money for jobs and housing, not for war!” says a statement from the group.
More protesters are staying over at the Occupy Tampa encampment.
A permitted march left this morning, and Diamond Dave says there’s another, unpermitted, planned for 3pm est. Many citizen journalists and livestreamers are documenting the events, one can be found at mobilebroadcastnews.com .
But so far, his work has been handing out free meals with Food Not Bombs.
“We fed the masses this morning for sure,” he said.