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Printed from the Charlotte Observer - www.CharlotteObserver.com
Posted: Monday, Jul. 02, 2012

DNC protest permits issued

By Lindsay Ruebens
Published in: Democratic Convention
  • Groups in lottery

    According to lottery applications, some of the largest groups expected to protest include Raleigh Fist, UNC Chapel Hill Students for a Democratic Society, Community Organization for Abundant Life, UNC Asheville Students for a Democratic Society, Pro America, New Yahrushalyim, N.C. State Students for a Democratic Society and N.C. Values Coalition. Lindsay Ruebens


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    Editor's note: Michael Zytkow, who was interviewed for a story that appeared on the July 3 Local & State front about DNC protest permits, says he does not support free speech zones. He says he supports the right to speak “within sight and sound of the convention.”

    In a lottery process, Charlotte city officials assigned time slots Monday to all 41 applicants who asked for a permit to march or speak at a designated platform during the Democratic National Convention.

    Willie Ratchford, the executive director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, picked names out of a large glass bowl. For Sept. 4 through Sept. 6, the city is giving six permits per day for the parade route and 20 per day for a speakers platform.

    All who applied were given a time slot, although two applicants were offered time slots on different days than they had asked for.

    Few people attended the event at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

    Occupy Charlotte member Michael Zytkow, 26, attended, and likened the event to a drawing for an iPod.

    “We entered to just show what a joke this system is,” Zytkow said.

    Emily Cantrell, the city’s DNC permit official, begged to differ.

    “It’s certainly not a sham, it’s our offering for these groups to have exclusive use for free-speech activities,” she said. “I think there’s a misunderstanding that this is the only opportunity for people to express their freedom of speech during the convention, and that’s not true at all.”

    Sidewalks and plazas uptown that aren’t blocked for security or transportation are fair game, she added.

    The city has released details of the parade route, which begins at Pearl Street Park and ends at Marshall Park, but has not yet said where the speakers platform will be.

    Cantrell said she thought the lottery went smoothly.

    “I’m very happy that everyone that applied to participate was able to receive a time slot, so that was the best outcome we could have hoped for,” she said.

    Protesters deride process

    Zytkow was less enthused.

    “The parade route is abysmal,” he said. “We essentially want the right to speak at a zone that would not be far from the convention.”

    A list of the applications, which requested event titles, showed that some didn’t take the lottery seriously: Some entries included event titles of “Right to demonstrate wherever I want,” “The Superscoots Spectacular One-Woman Parade,” “Personal speaking time” and “The Importance of Radical Cheerleading in a Dull, Boring World.”

    “We denounce the government telling us where we can or cannot march,” Zytkow said. “It’s a fundamental part of the American identity.”

    Abigail Ellis, also an Occupy Charlotte member in attendance, agreed.

    “I feel like everywhere in this country is a free-speech zone – this is America,” Ellis said. “I’m really angry. It’s just not right. Anyone with a drop of common sense knows this isn’t right.”

    Because there are still openings for both options, people can still apply for time slots between July 5 and Aug.24, or until they are filled. Once all slots in a day are filled, the city is closing that day and will not hold a waiting list.

    Permit applications for a parade or speaker slot are available at DNCinfo.charlottenc.gov.

    Ruebens: 704-358-5081

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