Democratic National Convention Host Charlotte Proposes Law Aimed At Banning Occupy Encampments

From The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/09/democratic-national-convention-occupy-charlotte_n_1138820.html

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12/ 9/11

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — When the Democratic National Committee picked Charlotte to host its September 2012 convention, city leaders saw it as a boost to the local service economy. Hotels would be filled, restaurants would be booked, and party spaces would be rented. Up until a few months ago, officials only had to worry about the would-be traffic congestion on Trade Street as lobbyists shuffled to the next cocktail party. But now, they have to be concerned about feistier visitors known as Occupy Wall Street.

If Charlotte officials fear having another Chicago ’68 on their hands, they’re hoping to take one essential weapon out of the hands of activists: their tents. On Oct. 27, the Charlotte city manager released a draft ordinance that makes camping on public property a “public nuisance” and would prohibit “noxious substances,” padlocks and other camping equipment that city officials fear could impede traffic and create public safety issues.

The Charlotte City Council has not yet voted on the ordinance, and some argue its language is vague and may violate First Amendment rights. “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, in an editorial that will run in the Charlotte alternative weekly Creative Loafing on Dec. 13. “There is also the potential for increased confrontation between protesters and police.”

Occupy Charlotte formed on Oct. 1 with a march on Bank of America’s headquarters, though the encampment at the Old City Hall on Trade Street downtown didn’t begin until Oct. 8. Two months in, the occupation has established a sprawling campus that contained roughly 50 tents at its height. Despite its location directly across the street from Charlotte police headquarters, relations between cops and protesters have been respectful. Police have arrested twelve activists — the majority stemming from a Rainforest Action Network protest on Nov. 15 after demonstrators hung an anti-coal banner from Bank of America’s flagpoles and blocked an entrance.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/09/democratic-national-convention-occupy-charlotte_n_1138820.html

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