Charlotte Observer: Maybe the city needs a camping ban for #OccupyCLT, #DNC2012 groups

Posted by: ST on November 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Has hell officially frozen over? It’s not often that the Charlotte Observer and I agree on anything but on the issue of the City of Charlotte needing to preserve the free speech rights of Occupiers while at the same time acting in the interest of public health and safety, the local fish wrap and I stand (mostly) in solidarity:

The modest clan of protesters that comprise Occupy Charlotte pose little more than a horticultural threat to our city at this point. There’s just a dozen or two of them now, exercising free speech while tromping on the grass at the Old City Hall and annoying local Republican leaders.

But in less than a year, that handful of overnight campers is sure to become a larger spectacle – and probably in spots beyond uptown. The Democratic National Convention will bring an onslaught of protest next September – not just local Occupiers, but groups from around the country and across the ideological spectrum. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County need a plan for their land.

This week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave officials here a framework from which to build when he barred overnight camping from Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the Occupy movement. Bloomberg argued that health and safety concerns outweighed protesters’ rights to free speech, and a state Supreme Court judge agreed. In his ruling Monday, Judge Michael D. Stallman reminded all of what the U.S. Supreme Court said in 1985: “Even protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times.”

Yet in that same 1985 Supreme Court case, the court said we also must measure whether “Government’s interest in limiting the use of its property to its intended purpose outweighs the interest of those wishing to use the property for other purposes.” That means officials need to be reasonable about the restrictions they place on public land.

Currently, Charlotte and Mecklenburg don’t have ordinances that prevent what Occupiers are doing at Old City Hall. City and county officials should be proactive by specifying how land can be used uptown and elsewhere, but any plan they develop should be based on two simple principles: Respect the free speech of protesters, and protect the public’s safety and interests of local businesses.

In New York, Bloomberg’s ban showed that public officials can accomplish these seemingly contradictory objectives. NYC didn’t ban protesters from parks, but they eliminated camping by banning tents and sleeping bags along with lying down on the ground or a bench and snoozing.

Here’s yours truly, back on November 1st:

[...] the Tea Party managed to get their points across quite well across the country when they staged rallies – and they didn’t have to occupy. They also followed local city codes (even paid their respective city the required fees in some instances, which occupiers have NOT). The issue is not about government “squelching free speech.” When public safety/health/resources become negatively impacted, it’s a whole different ballgame – and it appears at least some of the Democrat mayors in the big cities these “occupations” are taking place in understand this. When these occupiers get finished patting themselves on the back for accomplishing absolutely nothing, maybe they’ll understand, too. Until then…

And two days later:

As I’ve said before, yes, we all get to enjoy the right to freedom of speech in this country, but when your free speech starts leading to public safety/health/resources issues, then public officials have the right – no, the obligation to step in and try to resolve the situation.

Will Charlotte’s city leaders act responsibly on behalf of both free speech and public health/safety/business interests when it comes to both “Occupiers” and the much bigger Democrat National Convention protest onslaught we’ll see next September when our celebrity President and his party roll into town? We’ll find out in January when the city and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department leaders unveil a proposed ordinance that would, among other things, essentially ban camping on all city property.

As they say, stay tuned …

Related Reading: USA Today – Poll: ‘Occupy’ movement fails to capture Americans’ interest

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9 Responses to “Charlotte Observer: Maybe the city needs a camping ban for #OccupyCLT, #DNC2012 groups”

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  1. Marybel says:

    These folks aren’t “occupiers,” they are SQUATTERS.

    And I mean that both ways.

    They should never be allowed to squat on public property. Occupier is far too dignified a term for people who live/camp in this kind of squalor.

  2. Great White Rat says:

    Actually, it sounds like the local Charlotte fishwrap is a bit late to the 180 degree turn in the MSM. Around here, the Philadelphia Daily News ran an editorial on 11/15 calling for the OWS mob to pack it in, and their sister publication, the Inquirer, followed suit the next day.

    Looks like the word went out from the White House that their mouthpieces should start disavowing the OWS infestation, now that the original glowing praise for them had worn off and the true ugliness and rapaciousness of the mob was becoming more obvious each day.

    On another note, is anyone else here old enough to remember how the late cartoonist Al Capp (Li’l Abner) lampooned the hippie mobs of the 1970′s as members of an organization called Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything (S.W.I.N.E.)? Seems to me he captured the essence of the OWS thugs about 40 years early.

  3. Drew the Infidel says:

    It makes one wonder why Obhammud would be backing away from this. The protest signs carry his campaign talking points and the thug behavior is something he and the LSM have taken to a science. I liked the Cairo cops’ method of simply burning them out, you know, like rats.

  4. scooter says:

    Don’t worry…..the other McClatchy rag in these here parts (The State) continues to heap praise all over our two “occupy” protesters as well as a front page feature when Governor Haley had those buffoons arrested. I went and spoke with them Sunday afternoon….I took the classified section of The State to them and pointed out that there were plenty of jobs available. they wouldn’t take the classified section from me!

  5. PE says:

    Doesn’t sound like they’re saying “Get their firstest with the mostest.”

  6. Carlos says:

    @GWR: Capp captured a lot with his cartoon, as do all great cartoonists (most of them lampoonists).

    My favorite from the past is Pogo’s comment, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

  7. MikeNC says:

    Sister, as a fellow Charlottean I think that one question should be asked of the Disturber – if the upcoming convention was going to be the Republican one instead of of the Democrat one, would they still have the same opinion? This is all about making the fascist in the White House and our boot-licking mayor look good, nothing else.

  8. Carlos says:

    With any luck the #Occupiers in Charlotte will occupy the convention next year.

    Then watch the fireworks as the politicos, both local and national, clean the place out and make sure there is nothing amiss in your fine city while the world watches the new coronation of Sir Sludge and his merry gang of thugs.