Fri August 31, 2012
DNC Time: Protests Lead The Way
Official DNC activities kick off with a street festival Monday Uptown. But protest activity will be underway even before then. WFAE's Julie Rose will be following the action in the streets all week and joins Morning Edition Host Duncan McFadyen for a preview.
McFadyen: When and where do we expect to see the largest protests?
ROSE: Sunday is when some 90 different activist groups have planned a march. They're called "the Coalition to March on Wall Street South" and busloads of people are coming to town, so they're hoping for a turnout of thousands. They're having a festival with music and dancing Saturday night at 15th and Davidson.
Then, Sunday starting at 11 a.m., they'll gather in Frazier Park (that's on the western edge of Uptown) and march up Trade Street, across Tryon Street, down College Street and back around to the park.
MCFADYEN: What are they marching for?
ROSE: Well, there are 90 groups involved, so their messages run the gamut. Immigration, environment, social justice. One of the march organizers - a local activist named Michael Zytkow - summed up their messages at a press conference on Wednesday.
Zytkow: We are fighting for a society where we put the people and the planet before profit! We are fighting for good jobs for all. Economic justice now. We are fighting for money for education, health care, housing and all human needs. Not for wars and incarceration.
MCFADYEN: Are they specifically protesting the Democratic Party?
ROSE: Well, they think both political parties are beholden to corporate interests, so yes, they're protesting that, too.
MCFADYEN: Why are they doing their big march on Sunday - when convention delegates won't start their official business until Tuesday?
ROSE: I think they're hoping for a bigger local turnout since they'll be marching on a Sunday. And one benefit to marching before the convention's in full swing is more Uptown streets will be open - so they can actually march in front of Bank of America and Duke Energy - which are two of their big corporate targets.
Another march organizer - Yen Alcala - told me they want Sunday's march to be kind of a jump-off for protests during the DNC.
Alcala: Where everyone had this unifying march and rally and bring everyone together. But then after that, most of us are part of other organizations that will be active in having other activities that week so in that way we're free to still participate in that which we feel most passionate about.
MCFADYEN: So we can expect to see more protests through the week, then? What might those lose like?
ROSE: The city has designated an official march route on Stonewall St over on the southern edge of Uptown starting on Tuesday and there are a number of groups signed up to use that. My sense in talking to members of the coalition is they'll focus on spots of significance to their causes. I'm sure we'll see some banners and picketing and maybe even more dramatic stunts outside Duke Energy and Bank of America for example. The FBI has warned there could be dangerous anarchists in town, but they haven't turned up yet in Tampa. And members of the coalition continue to say they plan to protest peacefully.
MCFADYEN: Is the city's police force ready?
ROSE: All they're really telling us is they'll be out in force. Some 3,000 police officers - about half have been brought in from outside of Charlotte. And the National Guard will supplement their ranks. What we don't know for sure is how aggressively police plan to be searching backpacks and enforcing the city's new protest ordinance that prohibits things like water bottles that could hurt people if thrown.
MCFADYEN: It sounds like this could turn out to be the biggest protest Charlotte's ever seen.