CHARLOTTE, N.C.– A haz-mat crew with the Charlotte Fire Department was called to 600 East Trade Street, the site of the Occupy Charlotte movement, on Tuesday morning.
City workers who had been cleaning the area noticed toilet paper on top of a storm water grate that drains into a nearby creek. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and city officials believe some protesters have been using the drain as a toilet.
“We’re looking at the environmental impact on the stream down there with the wildlife, and things like that,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Dulin.
“Plus the water goes downstream for other people to drink further down. But again, we’re just trying to cover all our bases, and make sure that if there is any type of environment impact, that we’re able to identify that and then correct that and make sure there is no further environmental impact downstream,” he added.
About four protesters watched as haz-mat crews scooped debris into five containers for testing. Eric Dow, who has been on the site since October 2011, says he never saw anyone using the drain as a toilet. He says new protesters are told where the closest public restrooms are.
Tuesday morning, firefighters used pry bars to open a storm drain so a HazMat team could collect samples. Police said when they were removing tents Monday, they suspected some of the Occupy protesters had been using the drain as a toilet.
The protesters have been occupying the park since October and firefighters said the problem could have been one that passed beneath the purview of city officials for months because the area was covered by tents.
Gee, hmm. That sounds like, hmm. I dunno – a public health issue? I know I wasn’t the only one warning about that very possibility months ago. Occupiers, of course, will partially blame the city for refusing to grant them special permission to keep a portapottie at the camp, but in the end (pun intended) it’s a reflection of both the sorry state of the camp as well as the not-so-surprising inaction from the Democrat-controlled Charlotte City Council back in November when their first opportunity to tackle this situation came up for discussion. Oh well. At least it wasn’t police cruisers that were being used as pooping facilities.
I also wasn’t the only one concerned about the public safety issue, and one Occupy Charlotte member inadvertently confirmed that issue today when he talked about the types of people who would frequent the campsite (emphasis added by me):
Occupy Charlotte has always struggled with that dynamic. Differences of opinion split the protesters into factions early on. More recently the group tried to distance itself from a few campers who burned an American flag at the protest site.
[Occupier Eric] Dow says people who were not invested in the political message of the Occupy Wall Street movement routinely joined the camp.
“We had some that would literally be walking out of jail and would stop and not know anything about us and just stay here,” says Dow.
Hmm. I certainly can’t imagine any situation where public safety issues might arise with people like that joining “the movement”, can you? Hate to say “Toldjah So” but …
Oh, and to top it all off – Occupy Charlotte prided itself on its supposed “commitment” to “green living.” Some members were so “devoted” to green causes that they were arrested in mid-November after joining up with the radical environmentalist group Rainforest Action Network to protest Bank of America’s coal-related activities/investments. Apparently that “green living” message was not always practiced at the camp – considering not just the storm drain incidents but also the lawn at Old City Hall, which was crushed and crunched by the constant foot traffic, 3 dozen tents, and make-shift kitchen they had on site … not to mention there were reports some Occupiers trashed donated items like an on-site medical tent generously donated by a supporter.
Yeah, some of these people didn’t respect personal nor public property, were sometimes hypocritical when it came to “green living”, and frequently wanted something for nothing. Go figure.
In any event, this is just a postscript on the former campsite uptown at Old City Hall. Even though a court hearing this afternoon on the issue of allowing the tents onsite was postponed for at least a week, I suspect the city will win in its defense of both the new ordinances – which were designed in the interest of the public’s health and safety (shock) and for the safety of political figures who will be attending the Democrat National Convention here in Charlotte in September, and the Occupiers will have keep drifting around to find somewhere else to park it – but on private property, not public.
Which sort of takes the “sting” out of attempts by OWS types who deliberately defied city governments nationwide by using public property for things in which the property wasn’t intended on “free speech” grounds, and who many times intentionally stirred up and instigated confrontations with law enforcement (not to mention pushed women, children, and the handicapped to the front lines) in order to fan the flames of discontent as a way to keep the movement going.
The movement here, I should note, was relatively tame by comparison but had gotten more radicalized as the months went on. And while the camp itself is no longer in existence, make no mistake about it: In a few months, career radical liberals and anarchists will descend on this beautiful city and attempt to unleash hell during the DNC in ways that will make even the most radicalized of the Occupy movements (like Oakland) seem like child’s play. Occupy Charlotte has been a training session of sorts for the Char-Meck Police Department, who by most accounts handled yesterday’s camp “eviction” admirably. I just hope that carries over to the convention, where battle-hardened officers will be confronted by far leftists who are so high on their own ego that they don’t care if they get hurt, arrested, or hurt others in the process. The CMPD needs to be firm but measured with this crew, because goodness knows these militant professional agitators don’t need to be given anymore excuses to whine about than they already (claim to) have.