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RNC Protest Group Wins Permits For Thousands-Strong Rally

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Journalists check out the Tampa, Fla., arena where the Republican National Convention will be held next month.
Journalists check out the Tampa, Fla., arena where the Republican National Convention will be held next month.

A thousands-strong alliance that includes labor and anti-war groups has received approval to protest during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., later this summer.

The Coalition to March on the RNC said Thursday that city officials approved the permits to rally at Tampa's Perry Harvey Park on the first day of the GOP gathering. The coalition will then be allowed to march along the official parade route to a designated protest area three blocks from the Tampa Bay Times Forum. City spokeswoman Ali Glisson confirmed the permits.

About 5,000 people will participate in the protest activities, which aim to highlight social and economic issues that coalition members believe are being ignored by both Democrats and Republicans, organizer Jared Hamil told The Huffington Post.

"We feel that both parties have led us down the road to where people are suffering," Hamil said. "There are wars overseas and there are murders every day, and racism is rampant, still, in the 20th century."

Many of the same organizations protesting at the RNC will head to Charlotte, N.C., to protest the Democratic National Convention in early September. The groups all oppose "parties of the 1 percent," the term used to describe the richest Americans targeted by the Occupy movement.

Four Florida Occupy groups have endorsed the alliance, according to its website.

The coalition will be part of the 15,000 protesters that Tampa police said they expect for the GOP spectacle.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told Politico on Tuesday that his city is "as well-positioned and as well-trained as anybody can be" for demonstrations. But he noted that the city is also anticipating the anarchist "black bloc" protesters who caused a bloody dust-up at the end of a major march during the NATO summit in Chicago in May. "You can assume that they will be there," Buckhorn said.

Hamil, who said he marched alongside a "black bloc" member in Chicago, promised the coalition's activities will be peaceful as long as local authorities are non-combative.

"If we look at all the violence of protests , almost all of it's been brought on by the police," Hamil said. "If police back off and don't bring violence … things will be just fine."

The federal government has committed $50 million to both convention host cities for security. Tampa plans to install about 60 new surveillances cameras and keep 3,000 to 4,000 police officers on hand each day of the convention, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

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