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Anti-GOP protesters clash with church group

Posted: August 28, 2012 - 11:01pm
Police officers separate two demonstrations during a protest, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. Protestors gathered in Tampa to march in demonstration against the Republican National Convention.  (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)  Patrick Semansky
Patrick Semansky
Police officers separate two demonstrations during a protest, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. Protestors gathered in Tampa to march in demonstration against the Republican National Convention. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

TAMPA, Fla. — Police officers in riot gear broke up a scuffle outside the Republican National Convention on Tuesday between anti-GOP protesters and Kansas-based church members who often picket soldiers’ funerals.

Authorities later arrested a man who was staying at a makeshift camp for protesters known as “Romneyville” for allegedly breaking the jaw of a fellow camper.

The anti-GOP protesters were marching from “Romneyville” toward the official protest zone created by the city when they clashed with members of the Westboro Baptist Church, which had been protesting homosexuality, Tampa police said. Church members also frequently picket funerals of military members.

After about 20 minutes, the half-dozen Westboro church members retreated from the protest area under police escort.

Tampa police said on its Twitter feed that officers separated the two groups for safety reasons. No one was arrested.

Meanwhile, Dante M. Sea, 24, was arrested and charged with aggravated battery Tuesday after he hit 60-year-old Eddie Thomas and broke Thomas’ jaw, police said.

Thomas was staying in a shed in back of a military surplus store and Sea was sleeping in a tent on the same property, located in “Romneyville.”

Sea took a piece of cardboard from Thomas’ shed and that prompted the fight, police said. Sea was being held at the county jail. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.

There have been few arrests thus far of protesters outside the GOP convention. Police arrested one protester Monday and another Sunday.

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