Occupy CLT To Protest Transit Fare Increase, Evolves Into 'Watchdog'
Occupy Charlotte plans a daylong occupation of the plaza outside the Government Center Wednesday in opposition to plans for a transit fare hike. Now that Occupy Charlotte is prohibited from pitching tents on city property, the group's identity is morphing. "Occupy Charlotte has kind of taken on a watchdog role in regards to city politics," says Scottie Wingfield, a member of Occupy Charlotte and a designated contact for Wednesday's protest of a proposed increase in bus and light rail fares. "We're really trying to pay close attention to what our city does and how it spends our money," says Wingfield. The group also protested city incentives for Chiquita. Since Occupy Charlotte's 24-7 occupation was curtailed, Wingfield says it's become challenging to organize twice-weekly meetings. "We don't have that home base where people can show up and find out what's going on," says Wingfield. Occupy Charlotte meetings now happen at various coffee shops and other locations around town. Wingfield says it's still a leaderless group and decisions are made by democratic vote. But she says Occupy Charlotte is also collaborating more with existing activist groups. Its members recently joined Greenpeace protests of Duke Energy, for example. Wednesday's all-day occupation of the Government Center plaza is Occupy Charlotte's most visible action since being evicted from Old City Hall. A public hearing on proposed transit fare increases begins at 5:30 p.m. Room 267.