A coalition of protest leaders Friday announced plans for a massive march the Sunday before Septembers Democratic convention in uptown Charlotte, a city they called the Wall Street of the South.
But city officials said no decision has been made on the timing or route of a possible march.
We have not said no. We just dont know yet, City Attorney Bob Hagemann told the Observer. We have just said its premature.
Earlier, leaders of The Coalition to Protest at the DNC blasted what one called the delays and run-arounds by city officials in issuing permits to demonstrate. The coalition represents 45 groups.
Its unclear how many protesters will be here. Some estimates put the number at 10,000 or more.
Theyre giving the Democratic National Convention a year and a half to make preparations; theyre giving us maybe six weeks, said Elena Everett, a leader of Occupy Durham. We are taking every step to ensure that a successful and safe march will take place in Charlotte.
Hagemann, who has talked to attorneys for the protesters, Friday outlined a tentative schedule for protest organizers in a process that could begin in June.
Under it, groups would have to apply for permits by July 2. A lottery for time at a speakers platform would take place July 11.
Hagemann said permits will only be needed for marches near the convention venues and at the designated speakers platform, where the city will provide amplification equipment.
The city appears to be on roughly the same schedule as Tampa, site of the Republican National Convention. It will take place a week before the Democratic convention.
Were probably in a similar position; we havent granted any permits yet because the process is not in place, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. Were probably about on the same time frame.
A list of grievances
About a dozen organizers from the coalition, carrying signs protesting everything from the Trayvon Martin killing to home foreclosures, outlined their own plans at a news conference outside Bank of America Stadium, site of President Barack Obamas Sept. 6 acceptance speech.
The coalition represents 45 organizations from across the country including organized labor, peace groups and Occupy groups.
Leaders pledged protests over many causes. One promised to put banks on trial for the crimes they have committed. Another blasted Democrats for choosing the most anti-labor, anti-working class state in the nation for their convention.
We wont tolerate any effort to stop us from exercising our constitutional rights to protest, said Larry Holmes, with Occupy 4 Jobs in New York. If they have to arrest 10,000 of us, if we have to fill the jails, we will be here.
Coalition leaders said theyve made multiple, unsuccessful attempts to obtain permits for parks and a parade during the convention.
The rights of the people to present their demands for economic, social and political justice to the delegates of a major electoral party must not be curtailed by excessive delay tactics, said Everett of Occupy Durham.
See, hear and be heard
Although city officials havent said where organizations will be allowed to demonstrate, courts have given protesters deference.
You have to allow protesters to be close enough so they can see and hear, and be seen and heard by their intended audience, said Katy Parker, legal director for the ACLU of North Carolina.
Hagemann said such questions may not be answered until federal and local law enforcement officials announce a security plan.
But, he added: Our parks and sidewalks will be open for people to exercise their First Amendment rights unless theyre restricted for security purposes.
Bob Thomas, a county attorney, also said county parks will be open.
The parks are going to be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, Thomas said. Anyone, protesters included, will be able to use the parks.
On Saturday, the coalition will hold a daylong organizing conference to discuss convention plans. The conference begins at 9 a.m. at the Charlotte School of Law.