Perhaps the most prominent and organized group of protesters at Monday morning’s March on the RNC, which began just over a mile north of the Tampa Bay Times Forum, ground zero for this year’s convention, was the Cycling Zookeeper Regime. Dressed from neck to knees in khaki to honor their slain leader, Steve Irwin, a.k.a. The Crocodile Hunter, the members of the CZR (pronounced seize-her) were determined to thwart law enforcement’s plans to arrest them en masse after the organization threatened – in a YouTube video last week – to release Animals of Mass Destruction within the secure areas of the RNC’s Clean Zone. Though the March was attended by hundreds of protesters representing over a dozen causes, CZR members had clearly organized and orchestrated the entire event, as evidenced by their constant and silent presence on the sidelines. Even the most unruly protesters seemed to respect the CZR’s control, waiting patiently and holding their banners, while CZR members repositioned their bicycle-wielding bodies into a human chain along the March route that would prove so daunting to law enforcement, they refused to attempt to break it.
The strength in the CZR lies in their solidarity and clever costuming. By dressing like carbon copies of a fourth grade gang of wanna-be zookeepers with their zippy dark bikes, streamline helmets, and double-shouldered back packs, law enforcement discovered that it was impossible to keep track of individual CZR members. In the same way that African Americans, Latinos and Asians look alike to white people, the CZR baffled police officers with their white on tan camouflage. One officer was overhead telling another, “I keep looking for a black face or a fro – something I can latch onto – but they’re all so damned Caucasian. I’m just not used to it.”
By covering their zoo affiliations with patches that read Police or Sheriff, the CZR also fooled many protesters and/or bystanders into believing that the CZR were members of law enforcement. One demonstrator whose sign read, I Was Promised Cake!, complained that he missed out on several opportunities to taste some of Tampa’s delightful pastries. “I was planning, you know, to skip out on the March when we hit the first bakery, grab a guava croissant and then rejoin the protest further down the street,” he explained, sipping a chocolate cookie dough martini at Kenny’s, a local bar known for its friendly owners and sports-memorabilia decor. “But those CZR dudes were lining the entire route with their bikes. Black bikes,” he added emphatically. “Big black bikes. Scared the shit outa me.” Like many other protesters who were reluctant to attempt to break through CZR’s human and cycle chain, he waited until the March ended, then raced into the first establishment available to provide him with his fix. “Yeah, I know there’s a Krispy Kreme down on Kennedy, but I’d have some serious jitters by the time I made it there.” Taking a sip from his glass, he smiled and said, “Yeah, this here will do the trick.”
Based on the fact that the CZR outnumbered Sheriff’s officers by a ratio of at least 75:1, it was an easy call for the motorcycle cops to simply stay put and guard the Subway lunch truck, rather than interfere with yesterday’s March. Rumor has it that members of the Sheriff’s Department had agreed earlier in the day that no officer would go down hungry, thus I was not surprised to see officers sitting motionless on their bikes, apparently waiting for their lunch break. However, perhaps the real reason the Subway truck remained standing is because CZR members are all ethical vegans, placing the lives and treatment of animals above their desire to inhale a meatball sandwich. Had those officers been guarding Pizza Fusion, a downtown restaurant known for its delectable vegan pizza, it’s possible that mayhem would have ensued.
Though CZR members were dressed similarly, you could still distinguish the Queens from the drones – who were bikeless and wore baseball caps, full-length khaki slacks and standard issue work boots – clarifying to all observers that in even the most anarchy-driven of organizations, there are those who piss in the latrine and those who clean that latrine with toothbrushes. Yesterday, CZR drones marched – signless, as is their modus operandi – alongside citizens demanding equal pay, women dressed as vaginas and the notorious Black Bloc, whose own disorganization was evidenced by the failure of many members to wear their bandanas as masks as opposed to scarves.
Black Bloc’s internal chaos became even more apparent when members of the anarchist group began lobbing hate-filled jabs at CZR members, whom they obviously had misidentified as members of law enforcement. “It’s a fucking police state,” one Black Bloc member shouted as he pointed at a stone-faced CZR, who didn’t bother correcting the emo wanna-be, who looked like he’d rather be at home with his precious skateboard and a bong. After all, confusion has proven to be part and parcel of the CZR’s success. As a seasoned journalist, I recognized the militant zookeepers immediately, but I’ve been told that at least one protester thought that the khaki shorts-wearing men and women with bicycles were members of a green United Parcel Service group demonstrating against UPS’ gluttonous use of gasoline.
Though the Animals of Mass Destruction – thought to be lion, tigers and bears, oh my! – were not released during the demonstration, some conspiracy theorists have adamantly maintained that the innocuous Subway van may have contained a live crocodiles, while yet other protesters insist that the dark vans with tinted windows which miraculously appeared at each intersection along the March route may have been laden with writhing, poisonous vipers.
At least one employee of the City of Tampa – who asked to remain anonymous – suspects that the CZR plans to release Animals of Mass Destruction that don’t fit the usual mold. “Forget the mother-fuckin’-snakes-in-the-city stories you’ve been told. I’ve heard they’ve got thousands of rats and millions of cockroaches,” the employee told me, a haunted look on his face. “All that work we’ve done cleaning up Downtown for the RNC, it’s all gonna go to shit.”
Even a rat lover like myself had to shudder at the idea of hungry vermin flooding the streets of Tampa, infesting every building, every condo, every kitchen. But then my source dropped another bomb. Lowering his trembling voice, he whispered, “It gets much worse.” With a little journalistic persuasion and
eleven a couple of happy hour cocktails, I was able to pry from this man the two words I’d hoped I’d never hear in my career. Even now, the thought of typing those words sickens me. However, I have an obligation to warn the public, so here it is: Bed Bugs.
My source claims that the CZR has recruited hospitality staff throughout the Greater Tampa Bay area to plant bed bugs in every hotel room within a 50 mile radius, in the hopes that itchy, sleep-deprived delegates may lose their resolve or become confused – and accidentally nominate Representative Todd Akin, the only person in the country to have skipped sex ed class – instead of Mitt Romney. Likewise, large rats allegedly imported from the depths of Manhattan’s sewers, along with cockroaches, are to be released by staff at every RNC gathering, whether it be the semi-permanent nightclub tent erected in Curtis Dixon Park for conservatives who want to shake their groove thang or one of the many fine dining establishments that will be hosting various fundraising luncheons. Though the introduction of vermin may not be as noticeable in certain restaurants – like The Tampa Club – where suit-and-tie-clad rodents dine regularly, they will be hard to miss in a city that has spent the last month painting over graffiti and reportedly bussing vagrants to nearby New Orleans.
Though the City employee could not confirm or deny if New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg was involved with or aware of the CZR’s plans, he did say, “New York’s got some pretty nice zoos. Big ones. The CZR has a lot of power with the higher ups in that state.” Further investigation has revealed, however, that California is home to the most zoos – and, therefore, the most zookeepers. And while Michael Bloomberg has flip-flopped between being a Democrat, a Republican and now, finally, an independent, California’s Governor Jerry Brown is an unabashed liberal, who has previously sought the Democratic nomination for the President of the United States. Could helping the CZR be part of his strategy to ensure that he finally gets that nomination in 2016?
As the March wound its way down Morgan and onto Whiting Street, protesters caught a second glimpse of law enforcement sitting quietly astride a half dozen horses under the Causeway. It is believed that the Horse Mounted Unit may be sympathetic to the CZR, privately endorsing the organization’s platform that horses shouldn’t be relegated to petting zoos, but should garner the same prime time placement in national zoos as do elephants, monkeys, tigers, lions and panda bears. “Horses are the animals upon whose shoulders and back America was built,” a CZR propaganda pamphlet proclaims. “To stick them in a tiny corral with goats and ostriches and permit them to be ridden by drooling toddlers is humiliating. Just as the Lion is the King of the Jungle, the Horse is the King of the Americas.”
With the promise of violence hanging in the air along with the Tampa smog, it’s unclear as to whether the CZR will be the perpetrator of an attack, or, rather, the savior of this year’s RNC Resistance by quietly intimidating other protest groups into behaving peacefully. Though the release of Animals of Mass Destruction has yet to manifest itself, the CZR’s presence at the RNC is not a mere threat. They’re here in Tampa. They have bikes. And they know how to ride them.
On a side note, local law enforcement have requested that pedestrians refrain from dressing in Tampa Bay Rays gear as the CZR’s leader, Steve Irwin, was murdered by a rogue stingray while snorkeling at The Great Barrier Reef in 2006. “Let’s use some common sense here, people,” Barbara Vamp, a spokesperson for the City of Tampa, told reporters. “We’re trying to be respectful of the CZR and welcome them to the City of Tampa. Rubbing a stingray spine in their face isn’t the way to ensure that we make it through the RNC without incident.”
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Miss Snarky Pants will be updated daily during the RNC, offering a humorous look at politics and protests.
Next week, Miss Snarky Pants will return to her regularly scheduled programming which includes posting “whenever she fucking feels like it” and taking jabs at anything that pisses her off or makes her giggle, including herself.
Bed Bug via Wikipedia
Steve Irwin via animal.discovery.com
All other photos are courtesy of Miss Snarky Pants