After having picked Charlotte, North Carolina, to host its September 2012 convention, city leaders saw it as a boost to the local economy.
Hotels were supposed to be filled, restaurants to be booked, and party spaces to be rented. Just a few months ago officials might only worry about the possible traffic congestion on Trade Street.
But now, the situation has changed and they have concern about visitors known as Occupy Wall Street.
On Oct. 27 the Charlotte city representative performed a rough copy of ordinance that would make camping on public property a “public nuisance” and would prohibit “noxious substances” and other camping equipment that city officials said “could impede traffic and create public safety issues”.
The Charlotte City Council has not yet decided on the ordinance.
“If the ordinance is passed, it is possible that its constitutionality will be challenged,” wrote Isaac Sturgill, director of the Charlotte School of Law chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. “There is also the potential for increased confrontation between protesters and police.”
Two months later after formation of Occupy Charlotte, the occupation has created a campus that includes about 50 tents at its height. Despite its location near Charlotte police headquarters, relations between officers and protesters were quite respectful. But police have detained twelve activists most of which was stemming from a Rainforest Action Network protest after demonstrators hung an anti-coal banner from Bank of America’s flagpoles and occupied an entrance.
Luis Rodriguez, 33, an organizer with Occupy Charlotte, said he’s talked to protesters in Asheville and Raleigh. “Everybody I talked to said the DNC is ground zero for everything,” he told reporters. “Everybody wants to be involved. We’re estimating several thousands of people coming especially from the Occupy community.”
Rodriguez also said they are not planning specific actions. It is just talks of hosting an alternative convention. “It’s just an idea floating around,” he said, adding that “we’re going to be protesting the DNC itself” and hitting the lobbyists’ parties if necessary.
“What we’re trying to do is keep hold of the lawn so that we’ll still be around for the DNC,” he said.
“The movement is about getting material needs met,” told reporters Barucha Peller, 28, an Occupy Oakland leader. “The convention is one thing, but meanwhile we’re doing direct action against the one percent. We’re taking on the needs of the working class.”
Rodriguez singles out the January vote on the proposed ordinance. He said the city leaders would make a mistake if they decided to evict them. He also suggested keeping around the activists who have built up relationships with local leaders: “You have no idea who’s coming,” he said. “We can temper any more combative or violent agitators that come in.”
Nevertheless, an Oct. 27 in Police Chief Rodney Monroe’s memo sent to the mayor and city council was stated, “The recent issues related to camping on city property have further amplified the need to review whether the city wants to regulate this activity during the DNC.”
City Councilman Warren Cooksey assumed the ordinances to pass by the end of January. “Once those ordinances go into effect, those overnight stays will end,” he said.
Officials with the Democratic National Convention assured that they were not going to make some extra steps to prepare for the presence of Occupy protesters.
“We recognize the importance of the freedoms protected under the First Amendment and we are confident that the city of Charlotte and our security partners will put a plan in place that ensures that all groups that wish to have their voice heard can do so in a safe and peaceful manner,” said Kristie Greco, communications director for the Democratic National Convention Committee. [Via Huff Post]