September 14, 2012
RNC Protesters Take Aim At Apollo Beach TECO Plant
A large group of protesters representing the environmental group Earth First! brought their issues to TECO’s Gibsonton plant last month, as part of their effort to be heard during the week-long 2012 Republican National Convention.
The approximately 150 protestors approached the TECO facility at the Big Bend Station in Apollo Beach. Three protestors interlocked their arms and legs in a device known as the sleeping dragon and blocked the roadway to one of the TECO entrance way, while two more protestors laid across the road blocking the roadway interlocked in the sleeping dragon device. One protestor also climbed on top of a semi trailer to be better heard.
With the protest, the group also hoped to bring attention to the country’s fossil fuel dependency and its ecological impacts.
Kristen Harvey, with Earth First!, did not hesitate to speak out about the group’s issues with TECO. “This is the dirtiest power plant in Florida,” Harvey said. “We are here because coal is destroying our communities and coal money is destroying our democracy.”
TECO officials reportedly said that such claims are unfounded as the Gibsonton Plant is actually one of the cleanest in the country and that TECO spent millions of dollars in improvements to cut coal emissions in half.
Earth First! also claimed that this year’s RNC was funded by millions of dollars in corporate payoffs by companies like TECO Energy.
To bring order back to the area, Tampa Police, Hillsborough County law enforcement personnel, including Sheriff David Gee, arrived for crowd management giving specially trained deputies the OK to cut the interlocking devices from the protestors.
During the two-hour standoff law enforcement and the protestors came to an agreement.
“The protestors agreed to leave peacefully and because there was no assaults on law enforcement, no property damage and minimal disruption to traffic there were no arrests,” said HCSO spokesperson Larry McKinnon. “The protesters were released back to the group, and all protesters left the property peacefully. There were no injuries to any protestors involved.”
Caption: Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee talks to RNC protesters that gathered the TECO facility at the Big Bend Station in Gibsonton. The group Earth First! to bring attention to their claim with of the country’s fossil fuel dependency and its ecological impacts.