Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Charlotte commemorates two-month observance of Occupy Wall Street movement

Posted By on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Before the Oct. 8 march, the groups largest, the CMPD met with organizers to go over the ground rules.
  • Rhiannon Fionn
  • Before the Oct. 8 march, the group's largest, the CMPD met with organizers to go over the ground rules.

The Occupy Wall Street movement turns two-months old today, and it is celebrating with an "international day of action." Never mind that the group was kicked out of its tent city earlier this week, a move by the local government that only seemed to fuel the protesters' fire; an estimated tens of thousands have already taken to the streets of New York City and arrests have been made — as have cries of police brutality.

The protest began at 7:30 a.m. and is planned to go all day.

If you're trying to keep up with what's going on in NYC, you can watch a live-stream of the all-day protest, follow it on Twitter using the #N17 hashtag or check out this live-blog from the RT Network.

As of this writing, the currently water-logged occupiers in Charlotte are planning a march on Bank of America at 5:30 p.m. today. They have two hashtags on Twitter: #OccupyCharlotte and #OccupyCLT.

With that in mind, we thought you might want to read what the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have to say about Occupy Charlotte. Here is a segment from our Q&A, conducted earlier this month with Capt. Jeff Estes:

Creative Loafing: Who is ultimately in charge of the CMPD? Is it the mayor?

Capt. Jeff Estes: The chief, but ultimately the city manager.

Creative Loafing: What is the CMPD's current relationship with Occupy Charlotte? How often is the CMPD in contact with its members?

Capt. Jeff Estes: It's great. We haven't had any issues. We talk practically every day.

Creative Loafing: Is the CMPD still working with Tom Shope? We understanding he is continuing to organize parallel activities.

Capt. Jeff Estes: Yes, we talk intermittently with both groups. We entertain everyone's questions and don't really know what happens internally.

Creative Loafing: Shope told me in an interview that the CMPD is investigating some of the occupiers, that the FBI may become involved and that the CMPD has access to www.occupycharlotte.org (the original website; occupiers at the Old City Hall now use www.occupyclt.org), so they could conduct an investigation into who was using the site and how. Is this accurate information? Does the CMPD have any investigations — ongoing, open or closed — into any of the occupiers' activities?

Capt. Jeff Estes: Investigation is an interesting word. We can't comment on active and ongoing investigations.

Note: When pressed on whether there have been any investigations at all, even ones that may be closed, Capt. Estes repeated "no comment."

Creative Loafing: Regarding the restraining order against Mr. Shope, and his against those at Old City Hall, is the CMPD aware of it and what will happen if any of them defy the order?

Capt. Jeff Estes: CMPD is aware of it, but people have to call if it's violated.

Creative Loafing: Regarding claims in the media about the CMPD's costs in relation to Occupy Charlotte, how is the department calculating this expense? What, specifically, is included in the amount, and which of those costs would have been incurred whether or not the occupiers were camping or protesting? How far back is the CMPD calculating costs — Oct. 1 or Oct. 8?

Capt. Jeff Estes: It's just straight time; the salary or hourly wage of the officers who have been dedicated to working on Occupy Charlotte. We do 24/7 monitoring. More officers are there on the weekends. But we are constantly cutting costs and the officers are not working overtime. We are pulling them from some other beats to cover Occupy Charlotte. Other media reports failed to mention our cost cutting efforts.

Creative Loafing: Regarding the retractable platform sometimes seen on the corner of North Davidson and East Trade streets, catty-corner to the occupiers' campsite, what is its purpose and what costs are associated with it being positioned there? Is it recording the movements of the protesters?

Capt. Jeff Estes: It's an easy observation tower — easy to move around. I'm not sure if there is any recording equipment in it. It's more likely to be on that corner on the weekends, when more people are at the site. It gets moved around the city where ever it's needed.

Creative Loafing: Is the CMPD videotaping, photographing, or otherwise recording the Old City Hall campers? If so, how much does this cost the department and what is done with those recordings and photographs?

Capt. Jeff Estes: We don't just have a habit of recording. This is not Big Brother watching.

Note: in an earlier interview he said the police department "always" videos and photographs protests.

Creative Loafing: What are the specific rules on picketing? We understand that if 50 or fewer people are picketing, or protesting, there is no need for them to request a permit. If they do not request a permit, because they have fewer than 50 people, would this help the CMPD with their costs?

Capt. Jeff Estes: As long as they obey all other ordinances, yes.

Creative Loafing: Does the CMPD employ agent provocateurs? Will it? Does it encourage or use its own force to act as agent provocateurs?

Capt. Jeff Estes: Good gracious, no. Not at all.

Creative Loafing: There seems to be some confusion about what methods the CMPD is able to use to deter or dispel crowds or riots. Please help us clear this up. Does the CMPD use teargas? Long-range acoustic devices? "Bean bags" with rubber bullets? Taser guns? Batons? What would prompt a police officer to use such methods? Are there any other methods the CMPD uses to deter or dispel riots? If yes, what are they?

Capt. Jeff Estes: I can't really speak to that. We would roll out any normal standard practice. I can't say that we won't. I can't rule out those things; it's above my pay grade.

Creative Loafing: Is the CMPD working with Homeland Security?

Capt. Jeff Estes: No.

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