CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- How do you keep your city safe during the biggest political event of the year? Should you ban protesters from certain areas? Should you determine where activists can parade and gather? These are the questions Charlotte city leaders are trying to figure out.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the City Attorney presented ordinance changes to Charlotte City Council Tuesday night - changes they believe are necessary to keep residents, politicians and visitors safe during the Democratic National Convention.
The changes are vast. Picketers and protesters wouldn't be allowed to have large backpacks that could conceal weapons. They wouldn't be allowed to wear masks or scarves that would intentionally hide their identity. And there would be no tents and tarps allowed on public property.
We've done our best to learn from other cities and what they've experienced, said City Attorney Bob Hagemann. He told Council he hopes the proposed changes would give police the tools they'd need to prevent problems from occurring.
Chief Rodney Monroe addressed Council and answered concerns that too many rules could be interpreted as unconstitutional.
Definitely in no way do we seek to inhibit anyone from their first amendment rights. We're looking to facilitate those rights, but in a peaceful and orderly fashion, Monroe said.
Sean Maupin has been Occupying around the country. He planned to sleep in a tent Tuesday night with Occupy Charlotte. You tell me where I can protest and I'm no longer protesting. I'm standing in your line. I'm not listing my grievances. I'm standing in line, he said.
Other groups that have broken from Occupy Charlotte said they believe the proposed changes are in good measure and do not infringe on the right to protest.
There will be a public hearing on the changes next week and then a vote on January 23.