1 arrest during GOP protests in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Protesters blamed Tropical Storm Isaac and a massive police presence Monday for their weak showing at the Republican National Convention. Only a fraction of the 5,000 expected demonstrators actually turned out to criticize the GOP’s economic and social policies.

Hundreds of police officers and heavily armed members of the Florida National Guard patrolled the streets of downtown Tampa. The protesters were required to conduct their rallies and parades in designated areas and along specified routes, none closer than about a half-mile from where Republicans would be gathering.

“They’ve militarized Tampa. The chilling effect has succeeded,” said Cara Jennings, a voter outreach organizer from Palm Beach County.

About 200 people marched as part of the Coalition to March on the RNC’s rally in an empty lot near the arena where the Republicans will be nominating Mitt Romney as their candidate for president. Sporadic heavy rain lashed the city and winds were gusting at 35 mph as Isaac passed to the west of Tampa in the Gulf of Mexico. The Republicans themselves had canceled most of their Monday activities because of the storm.

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