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Protesters again take to uptown streets

By Meghan Cooke, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Ely Portillo
macooke@charlotteobserver.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. For a third consecutive night, protesters streamed out of uptown Charlotte’s Marshall Park Thursday night and into standoffs with waiting police officers.

The march began at about 7:30 p.m. and ended at 10:15 p.m. with no arrests or violence.

It started when more than 100 protesters marched from the park up Stonewall Street to Tryon Street at 7:30 p.m., where they attempted to turn north into the center city. Police blocked their path.

After a 10-minute impasse, officers allowed the procession to turn up Tryon.

At Trade Street, the march again came to a halt for 25 minutes. A large number of officers poured out of waiting trucks to surround the marchers, who sat down in the intersection.

“I hope this is the last one,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe told the Observer.

Asked if protesters might become more aggressive than previously on the last night of the convention, he said: “It’s a distinct possibility.”

A few blocks from Time Warner Cable Arena, where President Obama will accept nomination to a second term Thursday night, the protesters took up a chant: “Obama, come out, we’ve got some … to talk about!”

A brass band standing on a street corner responded with an impromptu tune that drowned out the chants.

“We’re here to send a message to Obama and Romney that enough is enough,” said Occupy Charlotte organizer Michael Zytkow. He named corporations that he said are “foreclosing on our homes, destroying our environment.”

Many protesters wore black bandanas over their faces, and some wore Guy Fawkes masks, a symbol of rebellion.

Occupy Charlotte member Adam Nuber yelled through a megaphone: “The corporations have bought out your government!” and gestured at the Bank of America tower overlooking the Square.

But relations between police and protesters remained mostly cordial, with some march organizers conferring with police commanders on the direction of the march.

Charlotte police Maj. Dale Greene stepped into the crowd to talk to protesters stopped at Tryon and Stonewall. A woman asked why his hand was on his gun.

“Because I don’t want you touching my pistol,” Greene said with a smile. She walked away, also smiling.

The marchers later walked back down Stonewall to the speaker’s platform across from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. There some burned two small pieces of paper – copies of the presidential oath of office.

Police watched but took no action.

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