The city of Charlotte is poised to repeal and replace its controversial Extraordinary Events ordinance that was passed before the Democratic National Convention five years ago.
But will the new rules be any different?
The Extraordinary Events ordinance lists a number of prohibited items for large-scale events, including rocks, bottles, chains, bike helmets and backpacks that can be used to conceal those prohibited items. Police said it gave them more leeway to stop people and search them.
The ordinance was only enacted when the city manager decreed something was an Extraordinary Event, such as the CIAA basketball tournament.
The city apparently tired of the scrutiny involved each time it declared something an Extraordinary Event – or when it didn’t. For instance, last summer some LGBT advocates complained that the city was planning to declare the gay pride parade uptown as an Extraordinary Event. They were worried the extra police presence could scare some participants.
The city attorney’s office will presents its plan for the ordinance Monday night.
The proposal calls for the Extraordinary Events ordinance to be repealed completely. However, the city would amend the Picketing and Public Assembly ordinances to prohibit a list of items that could be used as weapons in large event settings.
That means the prohibitions would be in place at all times – not just when the city manager makes a public declaration.
The list of prohibited items is similar to what was banned before. They include things such as a “bar, chain, shaft, staff, cable, wire, lumber, or pipe capable of inflicting serious injury to a person”; box cutters; knives and ice picks; rocks and bottles; fireworks, smoke bombs and sparklers.
Also outlawed: Backpacks, duffel bags or satchels that are “carried with the intent to conceal weapons or other prohibited items.”
That doesn’t mean people can’t bring backpacks to large events like parades. But it does give CMPD more leeway to search your backpack or satchel.
That’s similar to the Extraordinary Events ordinance.
Some items that are prohibited under the Extraordinary Events ordinance are not banned under the proposal. They include bandanas and scarves used to conceal someone’s face. Also, bike helmets and gas masks would no longer be prohibited.
The Extraordinary Events has been criticized by groups like American Civil Liberties Union. But the city has only made one arrest for violating the ordinance since it was enacted.