Ahead of RNC, Tampa Bans ... Puppets? Protesters outraged By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jul 31, 2012 8:34 AM CDT 22 comments Comments Protestors carrying a street puppet affiliated with Occupy Philly encampment at City Hall march to the Market Street bridge over the Schuylkill River, Nov. 17, 2011 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Newser) – Political puppets are a time-honored tradition, and protesters gearing up for the Republican National Convention are dutifully creating some. There's just one problem: The city of Tampa has effectively banned puppets inside the event area. Well, technically, they've banned sticks, strings, and masks, the Tampa Bay Times reports, but police aren't shy about saying their goal is to suppress puppets. "Their heads have been used to hide weapons," explains a police spokesperson, and, er, "other matter, fecal matter." One Tampa puppeteer says protesters will simply steer clear of the event zone. But the ban is still controversial. "That's a suppression of civil liberties," protests one Philadelphia puppeteer. Philadelphia was the site of an infamous puppet suppression incident ahead of the 2000 RNC. Police raided a barn where protesters were making puppets and arrested 75 people, charging them with conspiracy to obstruct the law. The charges were eventually dropped—after the puppets had been destroyed.