The city of Charlotte on Tuesday unveiled new ordinances in preparation for the Democratic National Convention that will prohibit camping on city property and will forbid protesters to carry items such as box cutters, pepper spray, body armor and gas masks.
If approved, the ordinances would essentially end the Occupy Charlotte movement at old City Hall, where left-wing protesters have camped for several months.
The Occupy protesters would not be grandfathered in if the ordinance is approved, City Attorney Bob Hagemann said after the council meeting. If the ordinance is passed, the overnight camping provision would go into effect immediately, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police would have the option to remove any protesters.
"It will be up to law enforcement discretion," Hagemann said.
The City Council will hold a public hearing Monday on the ordinances and is scheduled to vote on the DNC-related ordinances Jan. 23.
The city contacted police departments nationwide to prepare for the DNC and the expected crowds of protesters.
Hagemann told council members he's confident the changes don't violate the First Amendment, though he expects the city to be sued, as other convention cities have been.
"We are geared up to defend the decisions you make," Hagemann told council members.
One change would be to prohibit using city property for "living accommodation purposes," such as sleeping, making preparations to sleep, storing personal belongings, or placing tents or temporary shelter.
Using a campfire or bonfire on public property also would be prohibited.
The Occupy Charlotte movement took advantage of a loophole in existing city ordinances, which prohibits camping in city parks - but not in areas classified as "public forums," such as old City Hall on Trade Street.
If the council approves the proposed changes, the ordinances would end the essence of the Occupy Charlotte movement, which has had a 24/7 presence at oldCity Hall since October. It's possible the protest could continue, though it would have to disband and regroup each day.
Don Faix of the Occupy Charlotte movement said he will lobby the City Council to grant the group the ability to stay longer.
"We hope there can be a win-win," Faix said.
Most of the proposed changes are focused on expected protests for the DNC.
The city probably will have a designated protest area and will allow groups to protest along a specific route. Thecity said it probably will accept applications for protest permits this spring, and could decide who is awarded permits by lottery.
But if the ordinances pass, there would be a number of items or actions prohibited:
Possession of an object that would be used to obstruct a public road, sidewalk or entrance or exit to private property. That includes pipes, tubes, wire, handcuffs, chains or padlocks.
People attaching themselves to another person, building or vehicle, with the intent of obstructing pedestrian or vehicle movement.
Possession of any "noxious" substance with the intent to use it to interfere with a person's right of entry or to leave a place; or to interfere with lawful assembly. The substances include garbage, trash, refuse, animal parts, manure, urine and feces.
Possession of body armor, shields, helmets, protective pads and gas masks carried or worn with intent to resist.