The National Lawyers Guild, - a 4,000 strong association of lawyers, law students, legal workers, paralegals, jail house lawyers et al, claims, in a 31 page report released last week that during the Republican National Convention in Tampa last August, "The sheer number of police, weaponry and the constant threat of aggression and arrest had a chilling effect on free speech and assembly which led to smaller and less robust demonstrations than those in previous years."
Examiner cannot stand on the corner of Whiting St. and Ashley Drive in downtown Tampa without remembering the hot and humid late night last August when about 100 demonstrators made an unscheduled march to 'take back the streets' and were accompanied by law enforcement who managed to herd them all the way to the intersection where they were met by a solid wall of more law enforcement, many of them mounted on horses and those zippy bikes.
There, surrounded by hundreds of law enforcement, journalists and some delegates, the demonstrators sat down in the street and refused to move.
The air was still and tense and silent except for the sound of hundreds of cameras clicking and flashing around the determined group.
Everybody waited, anxious - actually quite nervous - and wondering what happens now?
The wall of law enforcement parted and through a narrow path strode Assistant Chief of Police, John Bennett.
Bennett smiled, hunched down with the demonstrators, and chose the fellow he must have thought to be the leader, leaned in to him and said with a smile, "Ok, where do you want to go and what can we do to help you?"
They negotiated, agreed on a plan, and then everybody - demonstrators, journalists, delagates, law enforcement - got up and went on down the street and around the corner to the hotel where the Wisconsin delegation was housed so that the demonstrators could have a heart to heart with them about some business in Wisconsin which the demonstrators deemed evil.
No weapons drawn, no windows or bones broken, nobody pepper sprayed, nobody clubbed, nobody pushed around, nobody spit at, hardly a harsh word.
Everybody went home happy.
If not happy, at least not bruised or broken.
And it went like that through the entire four-day convention.
Tampa Chief of Police had proclaimed that the police were there to protect everybody's right to free speech -and safety - and that the job would be done with dignity and respect.
And she was right.
And Mayor Bob Buckhorn proclaimed that it was absolutely necessary to implement that wall of law enforcement in order to prevent the mishaps at all of those other past conventions where a lot of people were arrested -and hurt.
And he was right.
And the demonstrators insisted that they had the right to have their say about all of the many evils in the world, and at high volume.
And they were right.
And there were two arrests, and no broken windows or bones.
And everybody in Tampa was better off for a convention which went smoothly, and put an international spotlight on a beautiful and growing city without the taint of riots in the streets.
Bottom line is everybody behaved, did their job, and now we need to leave the Repbulican National Convention in the rear-view mirror and get on with it.
We have bigger fish to fly.