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Protest Groups Frustrated With City/County Plans For DNC

Julie Rose
Elena Everett speaks at a press conference in front of BofA Stadium for the Coalition to Protest at the DNC. Photo: Julie Rose

Activist groups are frustrated with the City of Charlotte for providing too little information about protest opportunities Uptown during the Democratic National Convention. City officials say groups need to be patient.

The County now says Uptown parks will not be an option for large groups. Political conventions - Democratic and Republican - always draw protesters. The City of Charlotte has put all protest and special event permits on hold for the Uptown area while it prepares an application process for marches and rallies during the DNC.

"They've been saying that for seven months," says Elena Everett, with Occupy Durham which is part of a group calling itself the Coalition to Protest at the DNC.

In the meantime, Everett says the city has moved ahead with "other processes that are restricting our ability to protest." For example, she points to new city prohibitions against camping on city property and carrying certain items, including backpacks, during large protests. A spokeswoman for the city says protest and parade permits during the DNC will be issued through an online lottery starting in June. Groups will know their assigned protest times in July or August.

"That's insufficient," says Everett. "We're planning on bringing thousands of people in. We need our own time and space to be able to make our own accommodations; to make sure people feel safe; to make sure people know that it's a peaceful demonstration." Everett says the Coalition to Protest at the DNC hopes for at least 10,000 people to rally at Marshall Park the weekend before the convention and march through Uptown.

But Marshall Park will likely not be an option. The County Manager's office released a statement saying special event permits for large groups will not be granted in any County park during or just before the DNC because off-duty police officers will not be available to provide security.

Coalition member Larry Holmes, an organizer of the Occupy 4 Jobs Network in New York says, the protests will go on, regardless of city and county restrictions. "No matter what barriers are put in front of us - if they have to arrest ten thousands of us, if we have to fill the jails of Charlotte and other places in North Carolina - we will be here!" shouted Holmes at a Coalition press conference in front of Bank of America stadium Friday afternoon. "We'll be at the DNC - and we'll be at the (Republican National Convention) before that - fighting in the tradition of civil rights, anti-war and labor rights."

The Coalition to Protest at the DNC includes 45 labor, civil rights, peace and Occupy Wall Street groups. Their National Organizing Conference is Saturday at the Charlotte School of Law.