Demonstrators who plan to march through uptown Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention met Saturday to prepare for what could happen to them during possibly the largest protest in city history.
About 25 people representing groups that will make up the Coalition to March on Wall Street South gathered just northeast of uptown in a building on East 15th Street – a location they call their “convergence space” or “solidarity center.”
They discussed possible encounters with police during an “anti-repression” workshop Saturday. Ayende Alcala, a member of the Occupy Charlotte group, said the coalition is planning and promoting a peaceful march, but they’re preparing for all possibilities.
“We don’t know what to expect,” Alcala said, adding that some marchers have never been involved in a protest and others have never participated in one so large. “In case there is violence, we have to protect ourselves.”
The Coalition to March on Wall Street South, made up of about 80 groups with various social and economic concerns, will sponsor a kickoff protest on Sept. 2 along a parade route in uptown. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said the crowd could range anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000. Protests are expected to continue throughout the week of the DNC, which officially runs Sept. 4-6.
Easton Smith, who participated in the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York, told the group Saturday about the arrest process, from being handcuffed to being taken to jail. He advised them to remain silent if taken into custody and to never waive the right to an attorney.
He also said protesters should know the legal consequences of the actions they take before they take them.
Mentioned in the discussion was the “black bloc,” anarchist protesters who wear bandanas and gas masks and spark conflict with police at large protests.
One woman said she planned to protest peacefully but is concerned about the possibility of getting caught between violent protesters who might throw bricks or antagonize police.
March organizers, who have been in contact with local police, said protesters should be aware of their surroundings.
Participants in Saturday’s workshop were also told that if protesters are arrested, they should yell out their full name and date of birth to someone wearing clothing that designates them as a coalition “observer,” someone who will document the arrest by video.
Organizers said they plan to create a team of people to check on arrested protesters. They’ll also have lawyers at the ready.
The Coalition to March on Wall Street South plans to host more workshops leading up to the DNC. Visit http://wallstsouth.org for more information.
Cooke: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @MeghanACooke
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