Leaders of several Democratic groups predicted protests and other forms of unrest if Charlotte hosts the Republican National Convention in 2020. The groups held a press conference Monday in front of the Government Center to voice their opposition to the city's bid.
The group of about 30 Democrats gathered in front of the government center just before the Charlotte City Council held a public forum and voted 6-5 in favor of supporting the RNC bid, holding signs that said no RNC in CLT. Most of the speakers’ opposition to the convention centered on President Trump. New South Progressives’ President Sebastian Feculak pointedly called out Trump for his rhetoric.
“The president has stated numerous times negative rhetoric, racist and xenophobic comments," Feculak said. "His policies continue to reflect that. It’s something that our party does not need.”
North Carolina Democratic National Committee member Ray McKinnon says he respects Mayor Vi Lyles and other Democrats on the council but parts ways with them when it comes to the Republican Convention.
“We didn’t work our butts off to get Democrats elected just so they can roll over for Republicans,” McKinnon said. “It’s time to say no.”
The mayor has said the RNC will be an economic boom for businesses and the hospitality industry. But former state Sen. Malcolm Graham says in light of the policies pushed by the Trump Administration, the issue goes beyond economics.
“It’s about whether we will push back on racism, whether we will push back on discrimination, hatred, lies, white supremacy, the free press being called the enemy of the people, the terminology Joe Stalin used,” Graham said. “An affirmative vote today equates to silence and indifference. Just say no Charlotte.”
Outside the government center, a few Republicans stood on the sidelines carrying large party flags. Rev. Raymond Johnson of South Carolina, a Democrat, held a large wood sign calling for support of the mayor and the RNC in Charlotte.
“I got members of my church who are Republican so I want them to hear their side also,” Johnson said. “Folks from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia will have to drive and spend money so let’s help them out.
Johnson blew off predictions of mass protests if the RNC is held in Charlotte and pointed to the city’s smooth handling of the Democratic National Convention in 2012. But Graham and others say the mood of the country has changed dramatically since then and has become much more divisive, which they blame on President Trump.