Charlotte-Mecklenburg police say they will use common sense while enforcing the citys new ordinance that limits protests -- with the first test of the law possible Thursday at the Duke Energy shareholders meeting.
The ordinance allows the city to declare Extraordinary Events and permits police to search people who come inside an Extraordinary Events zone. A number of items which city officials say are potentially dangerous are banned from that zone.
The ordinance also gives the city power to limit the issuing of parade permits in protest areas.
Earlier this week, City Manager Curt Walton declared Thursdays Duke Energy shareholders meeting to be an Extraordinary Event, and the zone was established inside a quadrangle of South Tryon, Stonewall and Graham streets, and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
City officials say they wont bother people who are walking their dogs, jogging, or headed to work in such a zone -- especially since the Extraordinary Zone on Thursday and again next Wednesday for the Bank of America shareholders meeting is in the uptown area, which gets heavy pedestrian traffic.
But leaders of groups that plan to protest against Duke Energy and Bank of America say the law infringes on freedom of speech.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have acted at least three times this year in dealing with protesters. They arrested seven people while evicting Occupy Charlotte supporters from the lawn of the old city hall building in late January. Then on Feb. 15, police made six arrests to break up a protest outside the Duke Energy building on South Church Street.
And five people were arrested Wednesday at Bank of America Stadium, after members of the Rainforest Coalition hung a 70-foot banner on the stadium, protesting against Bank of Americas support of energy companies that use coal.
All of the arrests so far have been on misdemeanor charges. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.