After eight months of back and forth with the city of Charlotte, the Coalition to March on Wall Street South was finally granted what they had requested. Sort of.
On Tuesday, the coalition got a permit to march during the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 2 near places such as Bank of America headquarters and Time Warner Cable Arena. But they're asking for more. The coalition gave a list of demands to Mayor Anthony Foxx's on Wednesday morning that contained more than 1,000 signatures of support. Some demands, including the Sept. 2 permit, had already been met.
"This is a step in the right direction by city officials," coalition member Brian Carroll said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Other not yet met included the city repealing any ordinances "that will likely result in civil-liberties violations" and making public the permitting process for that would allow protesters to access public parks and more march routes. During the conference, coalition members acknowledged the difficulties they encountered while seeking the Sept. 2 march route, including eight months of "jumping through hoops." Member Brian Carroll said city departments regularly refused applications and ignored phone calls and emails. A ledger of all attempts to reach city officials since last October was included in the petition the coalition gave Foxx.
The coalition also warned against limiting the ways activists could protest. Member and Occupy Charlotte organizer Michael Zitkow brought up the "free-speech zones" implemented during the Denver DNC in 2008 that enclosed protest activity behind fences and other obstructions. He likened such restrictions to internment camps.
"The people who have died for our country, I don't believe they did so so that people would be free to speak in government-regulated zones in which the people are chosen to speak through a lottery system," Zitkow said of both the free-speech zones and the city's permitting process for marches.
"We categorically reject being boxed up and caged in miles away from a convention site to protest," Carroll added.
George Friday, a national field organizer for the grassroots Bill of Rights Defense Committee, pledged his support to the coalition and provided some historical perspective to their cause.
"There is a legacy in the South of racism and oppression," Friday said. "But there is also a legacy of protest, from the sit-ins to the marches...from the cities to the mountains. That's not being supported as much anymore."
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