Group concerned about their right to protest at DNC

Group concerned about their right to protest at DNC

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by RICHARD DEVAYNE / NewsChannel 36 Staff

Bio | Email | Follow: @richardwcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on January 18, 2012 at 6:44 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 18 at 8:04 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Holding signs that read everything from “Jobs not Jails” and “Power to the people,” about two dozen people gathered outside Time Warner Cable Arena to protest about possible restrictions they might face during the Democratic National Convention.

The group The Coalition to Protest at the DNC met to announce their desire to protest at the convention.  It fears the city might hamper their ability to protest at a time when the entire world would be watching.

“The system is broken and we need something new.  We need to stand up and speak out against the injustices that are going on in terms of the unemployment and this ongoing economic crisis that is devastating our communities,” said group representative Ben Carroll.

With more than 30 different groups all saying they want to take a part to some degree, organizers said they want to make sure the city allows them to have their voices heard.

“We’re trying to be peaceful we’re trying to demonstrate our concerns we’ll continue to work with them.  We really don’t know exactly what will be done,” said Donna Dewitt, president of the South Carolina AFLCIO.

The City Council is still considering exactly what guidelines to place on protests during the national convention, including restricting duffel bags and knapsacks, setting up protest zones and or limiting the number of permits it will allow during the two weeks that surround the convention.

“We’ll try to abide by the law, but when the law doesn't work for the people, we’re certainly going to be taking an approach that the legal teams would advise us on,” Dewitt said.

Carroll said that some of the same groups that support this effort are also considering a similar action at the Republican National Convention.

NewsChannel 36 did speak with an attorney for the Charlotte City Council.

Bob Hagemann said that current city ordinances allow "any citizen to protest on anywhere anytime day or night…except in front of someone's house."

Hagemann added that the only reason protesters would not be able to protest anywhere they want around the Time Warner Cable Arena is because of national security concerns.

And in the cases where access is limited, the city will make sure to find locations as close to the arena where protesters will be allowed to assemble, complete with bull horns or loud speakers to voice their protests.

“We will make sure people will be allowed to voice their concerns," said Hagemann.  "But to say that the city does not allow free speech throughout is just not true."
 
 

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