Neither Cheers Nor Jeers At The DNC Protest Rally

Aug 24, 2012

Of the very few attending the protest lottery, only about half a dozen were actual protestors. Photo: Tanner Latham Monday was a big day for groups wanting to protest during the upcoming Democratic National Convention. A lottery was held to determine when groups can have their parades and voice their opinions in a designated free speech zone. But the tension was absent. Willie Ratchford, the executive director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Commmunity Relations Committee, was charged with drawing the group names from the glass bowl. Photo: Tanner Latham. In the Government Center's meeting chamber, all the television news cameras had lenses honed on a large glass bowl. City officials billed it as a big event, complete with live coverage on the government channel. Willie Ratchford, the executive director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, drew the group names one by one. Any group that wanted to formally protest during the DNC had to go through this process. But for those groups in attendance, it was rather blase'. People like Michael Zytkow with Occupy Charlotte believe that these government-sanctioned protest zones and the whole lottery process is a farce. "The same process that we have for church raffles of iPods is the same process that we're doing for free speech zones," he says. But Zytkow still went through with it and secured a speaking slot at 6 p.m. on September 5. Overall, there wasn't much interest. There are 78 official times slots available for parades and to speak, and up to this point, the city has only received 40 applications. Now, groups are still allowed to protest in other areas. They can be on public sidewalks and in parks, as long as they aren't inside the security perimeter. Because there are still so many unclaimed slots, the city will re-open the application period July 5. Those will go on a first come, first served basis.