CHARLOTTE, N.C. – In a small one-room office in NoDa, two 20-somethings are sending e-mails and making phones calls feverishly. The two men are in the headquarters of what will possibly be the biggest protest group at the Democratic National Convention.
The Coalition to March on Wall Street South is an umbrella organization laying the groundwork for approximately 80 protest groups expected to be in Charlotte for the convention in early September. Some of the groups are from different ‘Occupy’ movements across the country.
“We're the only group here laying the groundwork for what's going to happen,” said organizer Matt Hickson. “We're homegrown. I live here, I grew up here, a lot of us have.”
The group formed shortly after the Democratic National Convention Committee announced it would be coming to the Queen City in 2012. But with mere weeks to go now, volunteers say the hours are long and the work is constant.
“A lot of moving parts, and lot of not so exciting things—writing emails and answering phone calls,” said organizer Ben Carroll.
On Tuesday, the group was raising money on its website to rent the space next door to its current office on North Davidson. It’s a warehouse where the Coalition will host out-of-town protesters and where members can build signs and banners.
“Whatever the occupancy is for that weekend, we'll be at it,” said Hickson.
The Coalition has a permit for a march through uptown on September 2 before the convention. Organizers expect thousands will march past Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Duke Energy headquarters and the arena itself.
The group doesn’t have any specific events planned during the three official days of the DNC. Organizers said it’s up to the individual groups to decide how they’ll conduct themselves during those protests.
Hickson noted it’s important to remain focused on justice and jobs for regular folks.
“Not money for banks, not money for General Motors, not money for bailouts. We need money for jobs here in our communities, where unemployment is so high, and people are really struggling.”