Police Evict Occupy Charlotte Campers
Tue January 31, 2012
Police Evict Occupy Charlotte Campers
CMPD officers surround the tent of an Occupy Charlotte protester that refused to come out. Photo Julie Rose
It took CMPD just over an hour Monday afternoon to dismantle the encampment of Occupy Charlotte protesters who'd been on the grounds of Old City Hall for more than three months. The eviction resulted in only a handful of arrests.
At its peak, the Occupy Charlotte camp had grown to over 40 tents and dozens of people voicing their dissatisfaction with corporate greed and the influence of money on government.
By early Monday morning there were about 20 tents still standing, but most were completely empty.
Craig Glisson with his empty tent and a copy of the new city ordinance prohibiting camping on public property. Photo: Julie Rose
"Other than a little bit of trash, there's nothing in here," says Craig Glisson, pulling back the flap to his small blue and yellow tent. "I'm not living or occupying this tent anymore."
Glisson had been sleeping in the tent at Old City Hall since January 1, when he made a New Year's Resolution to join the Occupy movement. The protesters made a point of emptying their tents because they believe there's a loophole in the new city ordinance that defines camping as "sleeping," "storing personal belongings" or erecting tents for "living accommodation purposes."
Even though they no longer plan to sleep in the tents, the protesters hoped to keep them standing at Old City Hall.
"The tents (are) symbolic of our Occupy Charlotte movement," says Glisson. "As an individual, I will say it represents that we're gonna stay here until our voices can be heard."
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police had other ideas. Captain Jeff Estes came to the camp shortly after 7 a.m. Monday and again 10:30 a.m. to warn the protesters their tents had been deemed in violation of the new city ordinance. During the mid-morning visit, Estes gave the Occupiers until 2:30 p.m. to remove their tents from the lawn.
Over the next few hours, the Occupy Charlotte site took on a festive atmosphere: people dancing, playing hackey-sack, waving posters and flashing the "peace" sign to passersby.
CMPD Captain Jeff Estes giving the final warning before officers came to remove the tents. Photo: Julie Rose
At 2:30 p.m. a crowd of onlookers and media had gathered and a news helicopter circled overhead. By now, protesters had set up a few additional tents to make their point. Captain Estes arrived at 2:35 p.m. to give one last warning:
"We ask that you remove property immediately," said Estes. "The officers who will be here shortly, we ask that you not interfere with anything they do. If so you will be subject to arrest."
Minutes later, a long line of uniformed CMPD officers marched across the street from police headquarters to remove the tents from Old City Hall.
A few of them carried video cameras. Some had surgical masks in their hands, but none had weapons in hand or were wearing riot gear.
As the police folded up the tents one by one, the Occupiers surrounded them and chanted, "Evict us, we'll multiply!"
A protester being arrested.
I count six people who refuse to come out of their tents and are carried away in handcuffs. (Late Monday, CMPD reported seven individuals were arrested during the eviction*). CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe stood on the steps of police headquarters across the street watching the eviction unfold.
In just over an hour, his officers had dismantled the Occupy Charlotte camp, including Craig Glisson's blue and yellow tent.
"This is sickening and right now, it's - it's a sad thing where you can't even protest in the city that you grew up in," said Glisson, pointing to the empty spot where his tent had been.
CMPD did let the protesters keep one small awning on the grounds of Old City Hall - the new ordinance allows for temporary shelters to be used in distributing information.
Occupy Charlotte protesters say they'll maintain a 24-7 presence at their information booth, which is fine with CMPD, so long as they don't sleep or set up tents.
*Those arrested and charged with misdemeanor resist/obstruct/delay were:
Thomas Gray Leinbach
Judson Charles Abraham
Jason Ryan Dow
Steve Miguel Barker
Adam Duncan Price
Scottie Lynn Wingfield