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A protest lacking punch

By Phil Van Hoy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. Marshall Park this weekend was like a time warp to UNC Chapel Hill and Duke University in the late 1960s, during the Vietnam War protests. The youngsters there were purposely scruffy, but even more seedy than their predecessors four decades ago.

The Vietnam War generation did not have tattoos and few had brightly-dyed mohawk hairdos. The few who had such hairstyles were males back then – not necessarily the case these days.

The Occupiers in Marshall Park had the same sort of serious, unhappy miens that I remember from back when. It seems that every generation – including mine back in the day – thinks they invented sex and civil disobedience.

Even though it was only Saturday, three days before the Democratic National Convention officially starts, uptown Charlotte was reminiscent of martial law. Barricades, squads of police on motorcycles, paddy wagons, helicopters and hundreds of police patrolling on foot, fully-armed with clubs.

One young protester was busy painting a sign that read “Duke Power’s Coal = Dirty Air.” The irony of his smoking a cigarette while he worked was beyond his understanding.

Despite predictions of up to 10,000 protesters for Sunday’s march, police estimated 800, and it looked closer to 300 to me. So many interest groups, with months to plan, on as big a stage as they will ever have, and they were only able to muster a few hundred for their march.

There seemed to be 15 or more interest groups represented. They included homosexuals, “greens,” various shades of anti-capitalists, anti-coal, anti-nuclear power, anti-global warming, illegal immigrants, etc. Some signs suggested that President Barack Obama is not left enough for their tastes.

The Revolutionary Communist Party people were wearing Fidel Castro shirts. I approached one of them to get a copy of Revolution, their house organ. He handed me the copy, I thanked him and started to walk away, and he said “Well, they are not free.” I paid him and said: “So you really aren’t a Communist after all.” He was speechless.

Phil Van Hoy is a Charlotte native who has been active in various Republican positions and campaigns.
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