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DNC activists promise bigger crowds than Tampa

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Protesters planning rallies and marches in Charlotte say their actions during the Democratic National Convention will likely dwarf those in Tampa, where thousands of demonstrators were expected but only hundreds showed up to the rain-drenched Republican National Convention.

A cross-section of people representing 90 groups planning to demonstrate during the DNC said they plan to bring their “Enough is Enough” messages to Charlotte starting Saturday. Friday’s press conference took place at the NoDa office that has become the headquarters for many protesters in Charlotte.

The Charlotte weather forecast calls for hot temperatures, but mostly clear skies. In Tampa, Hurricane Isaac washed out the first day of the protests and intermittent rain throughout the week frustrated the efforts of protesters.

“We’ll have more,” said Luis Rodriguez, with ActionNC, a nonprofit that works in low-income communities. “One of the things that brought down people’s enthusiasm in Tampa was the storm.”

Protesters and police in Charlotte have said they expect 2,000-10,000 protesters to descend on Charlotte. The numbers could be bolstered by protesters frustrated at their inability to share their message in Tampa.

“People have said, ‘I missed that party, but I can express my same concerns in Charlotte,’” said Michael Zytkow, an organizer with Occupy Charlotte.

Occupy Charlotte is one of more than 90 groups planning a march through uptown on Sunday that could be among the biggest demonstrations in Charlotte’s history.

Protesters said the march is permitted and family-friendly, and that they don’t expect any violence. Still, a police officer stood about a block away from the site of Friday’s press conference, and a cruiser with two officers drove by as protesters were speaking.

Protesters shouted slogans and speakers affected by the foreclosure crisis, immigration policies and a wheezing economy gave a taste of the kinds of messages they’ll try to shed light on during the convention.

Protesters will try to use the international media attention brought by the convention to spotlight issues they’re passionate about. One man held up a sign about Duke Energy while another man spoke about the impacts of coal-fueled power plants.

The speakers used their pulpit to decry a number of social problems and the organizations and corporations they see as principal culprits.

Duke Energy was a popular target because of the way the electric utility generates power. And Bank of America was also criticized because of what protesters said was its role in the foreclosure crisis. Sunday’s protest march will go past the headquarters of both companies.

Wootson: 704-358-5046
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