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City could derail DNC protest group 

Permitting issues may prevent the Coalition to Protest at the DNC from protesting - officially

A young woman in a white blouse and colorful neckerchief leans against a wall in a law school. Her shaved head hovers over her phone as she checks her text messages. Though she seems like any other person present at the school on Saturday, Loan Tran is at the forefront of a burgeoning grassroots movement.

About 50 members of the Coalition to Protest at the DNC, including representatives — Tran among them — of the 60 local and national organizations represented by the coalition, discussed plans to demonstrate at the Democratic National Convention at the Charlotte School of Law. The conference, which featured a panel discussion and workshops, focused on how and when the coalition would obtain protesting permits from the city of Charlotte. Though members plan on peacefully protesting, Saturday's discussions also focused on how they should interact with police.

The city has not given the coalition a clear avenue to apply for protesting permits. In the mean time, the city enacted an ordinance in January that limits certain areas from demonstrations as a supposed safety measure. The coalition insists that the demonstrations, the largest planned for Sept. 2, will be used as a platform for social justice, not a time for anarchy. "We've made it very clear that it will be non-violent protest," said Tran, a community organizer with United 4 the Dream, a youth immigrant-rights advocacy group. "We are not protesting the Democratic party. We're creating demonstrations."

The coalition will take the city to court if a permitting process is announced too late. If, for example, one is announced in August, that would only leave 3-4 weeks to apply for a permit, organize and allow out-of-town members to make traveling arrangements. The student-run civil-rights clinic at the Charlotte School of Law was on hand Saturday to collect statements from group members that explain their reasons to protest and that would be used in court. "We're waiting to see what happens," said Lindsay Vawter, a second-year student. "We'll have to take measures so they're able to use their First Amendment right."

If the coalition doesn't receive permits, Tran said they will find another way to peacefully protest.

"We'll have to use the creative side of organizing," she said, adding that, technically, permits need to be submitted only for 50 or more people protesting in a single place.

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