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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Protesters clash with evangelists and executives in Uptown

Posted By on Thu, Sep 6, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Before President Bill Clinton made a rousing two hour speech, protesters outside of the Democratic National Convention were stealing headlines.

For the fifth day straight, activists took to the streets of Uptown to voice their distrust and disappointment with the two party system and the corporations that support it. A few different rallies and protests were planned for the day by groups including Greenpeace and Occupy. But as most have been doing this week, activists from different groups joined each other in solidarity.

Greenpeace, Energy Action Coalition and other environmental activist groups met in front of Knight Theater, where Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers was speaking at an invite-only forum, to call on the Charlotte-based utility to drop all ties to right-wing legislative think-tank American Legislative Exchange Council.

Whit Jones of Energy Action Coalition encouraged Duke employees to sign a petition, which already had 150,000 signatures, calling on the company to drop ALEC. Jones was stopped by security guards.

“Duke supports ALEC because ALEC is a secretive way to get access to state legislators,” said Connor Gibson, a research assistant with Greenpeace. “That way it can not commit to implementing clean energy solutions and addressing climate change even though it says it will publicly.”

After the petition was denied, some protesters hung around in front of the Duke Energy until a politically charged protest, planned by Occupy Charlotte, began.

Protesters at this rally carried a faux dollar bill with Jim Rogers’ face replacing a president's and condemned the CEO’s hefty financial support of the DNC. Just when it seemed like not another person could fit on the sidewalk, occupiers did what they do best: they spilled onto the street and started marching.

The march up and down Tryon Street was peaceful — as most in Charlotte have been this week and all summer. The only conflict that really arose was a humorous exchange at the intersection of Trade and Tryon streets between some protesters and an evangelist.

He had a lot to say to the “pot-smoking perverts” contained about 20 feet from him and the rest of the crowd by police.

“Don’t get mad at me boy I didn’t give you that haircut,” he told one protester with a mohawk.

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