The local radicals strike again:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested four men for arson after they allegedly burned two American flags near an Occupy camp in uptown on Friday.
Police said Jason Bargert, 28, Michael Behrle, 23, Stephen Morris, 20, and Alex Tyler, 19, were charged with arson and setting fire to woods.
The four men burned the flags while in the area of tents for Occupy Charlotte, which is located on the lawn area of City Hall on East Trade Street, according to the police report.
Occupy Charlotte released a statement to NewsChannel 36 saying that the flag burning incident does reflect the people or message of their group.
The statement goes on to stay that Occupy Charlotte is no longer affiliated with the camp at East Trade Street, where the flag burning incident took place.
WBTV has more, including photos and video of those arrested and the burned flags:
Officers said they noticed the suspects lighting something on fire directly in front of the Occupy camp along Trade Street around 12:30 a.m. Friday morning.
Police swarmed the area, and detained the men while firefighters were called in to knock down the flames. About $30 worth of damage was caused to landscaping at the site.
It was only after the fire was out did officials figure out what was burning, the American flag.
Police said the men claimed they were burning the flag in protest. Burning the flag is not illegal, however doing it outside of a fire pit, and within ten feet from flammable tents poses a problem.
ll four men were charged with being careless with fire. That charge is a misdemeanor under the city ordnance.
Police officers told WBTV the protesters gave them a verbal tongue-lashing while being detained, calling then fascists, as well as using other colorful words.
Crime Scene Investigators collected the remains of the flag, and placed it into evidence. A cigarette lighter was also confiscated.
Here’s their video report:
Local “alternative” media outlet (which is also pro-Occupy Charlotte) Creative Loafing has the full statement from a “legal team member” of the group:
Official Press Release 12/30/11 Occupy Charlotte Movement
We, the members of the Occupy Charlotte Movement are no longer affiliated with the camp at 600 East Trade Street. In light of the recent actions taken by a few anarchistic elements that we do not want to be associated with, we are moving on from the actual Occupation site. The flag burning incident in the early morning of December 30th does not reflect the people or the message of the movement.
The Occupy Charlotte movement, among the other Occupations throughout the country, has succeeded in kicking off a national conversation regarding the universal problems facing 99% of our population. It has inspired our community to stand up against the perils of rampant income inequality and demand accountability for the wholesale purchase of our representatives in government. It has brought the realities of our nation’s corrupt corporatocracy and crony capitalism to our collective doorstep.
However, due to a message that has become stagnant and more radical, and a General Assembly that no longer reflects the voice of this movement in Charlotte, it is now time to revitalize and to move on and expand beyond the Occupation. It is time to educate and organize in order to make changes within our current political and economic systems that better reflect the voice and will of the people, beyond the confines of 600 East Trade Street.
Please join us on January 14 at 10:30 am at Dilworth Grille as we move forward.
Deanna St. Aubin-Bridgwood
Legal Team Liaison
CL also reports that the group’s “disbanding” is not offiically official as they will meet tonight at 7 pm at their General Assembly to discuss options going forward.
It’s interesting that the legal team member talked of wanting to disassociate from the radicalized elements of the group currently residing at Old City Hall. What the hell did she expect? There’s not an Occupy movement nationwide that either wasn’t radical in some way or isn’t radical – including Occupy Charlotte. The longer OC stayed together, the more radical they became. In the beginning, they seemed almost obsessed with wanting to be viewed as “mainstream” and “non-partisan” but their affiliations and alliances with radical left wing groups like RainForest Action Network demonstrated their highly partisan, radically left wing tilt.
The group’s numbers have been dwindling for weeks the colder it has gotten outside and the closer it’s gotten to the Christmas holiday season. And then there was that explosive U-Streamed General Assembly from late last month where some Occupiers complained (and in some cases yelled) about, among other things, pot being smoked at the camp, people showing up drunk, items being stolen out of tents, destruction of donated items – including a medical tent, people pooping in their tents, the lawless nature of some … in general, their was a general lack of respect for the property of others, whether it was personal property or collective property (shock!). This probably pushed a few away from the group.
As to what the future holds for Occupy Charlotte? I’ll keep you posted. My guess is that even if they splinter or even disband now, it won’t be long before someone cranks up the group again thanks to the DNC coming here in September 2012. With that in mind, if the legal team of Occupy Charlotte thinks the little group there now is radicalized, they haven’t seen anything yet.