Guns Allowed Into Party Conventions

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Tampa is proposing a "Clean Zone" protest area with portable toilets, water, a stage and a microphone for protesters. Outside that area, people will be allowed to march down an official parade route as long as they have a permit.

The exact location of the protest zones and security perimeter will be decided by the city commission in the coming weeks.

Joyce Hamilton Henry, the director of the mid-Florida office of the American Civil Liberties Union, said her organization is concerned about protests that will be limited to 60 minutes, and a ban on masks.

"We feel it's totally unrealistic, especially if groups are coming in with large numbers," Hamilton Henry said.

The Tampa Police Department is expected to rotate most of its 1,000-officer force into convention security during the event, which could draw up to 45,000 people. An additional 3,000 officers from other agencies around the state will help.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department plans to add 2,400 to 3,400 officers from outside departments to its force of more than 1,750.

For the convention there, a coalition of groups has formed because they said they are angry the city has refused to share information about where they can gather.

The Coalition to Protest at the DNC has threatened to gather without permits, and promised a massive demonstration Sept. 2 in what they call the Wall Street of the South. The groups promised the demonstrations will be peaceful.

Charlotte, a city of 760,000 people, is home to Bank of America Corp., one of the nation's largest banks.

"This is something we have to do. They can't stop our right to protest," said Ben Carroll, a coalition spokesman.

Members of the coalition said they're still angry about how police in February disbanded an Occupy Charlotte tent city on the lawn outside the old City Hall. Protesters had been camped there since October.

The move came one week after Charlotte adopted the extraordinary event ordinance, which gave police more power to stop and search people when the convention comes to town

The city said it has the right to restrict demonstrations, but wants to be fair to protesters. So the city has added a "speakers' platform," a location with microphones and amplification equipment.

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Mitch Weiss contributed from Charlotte, N.C.

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