This morning I wrote about an overnight development in which DNC 2012 demonstrators – including members of Occupy Charlotte – asserted they had been “in talks” with the city to make Marshall Park uptown into a campground for people to set up tents for the week of the convention. As of the time I wrote about and referenced this story, which was reported by the Charlotte Observer’s Cleve Wootson, it was unclear as to whether or not occupiers had actually been in contact with the city to discuss having the city give them special permission to break the anti-public park campaign ordinance strengthened earlier this year by our Democrat-controlled City Council.
In a tweet from earlier this afternoon, the city indicated that no permission had been given from either the city or the county:
— City of Charlotte (@CharlotteNCgov) September 1, 2012
However, local alternative magazine Creative Loafing notes that indeed there was an unofficial agreement of sorts, and has details:
Members of Coalition to March on Wall Street South negotiated with the city manager and city attorney to allow, on good faith, protesters to camp at Marshall Park Friday night.
About 25 Charlotte Mecklenburg Police officers were dispatched to the park and asked activists about their plans for the evening. Interactions betwen police and protesters were peaceful.
Police also informed activists that they were allowed to use the park and most of the parking lot and that they had no plans to kick any out. When officers from Mecklenburg County Parks arrived later and told activists to leave, police told county officers activists could stay.
I wouldn’t bet money on it just yet, but I’m inclined to believe the sourcing of the Creative Loafing article is accurate, considering the announcement a couple of hours ago from an Occupy Charlotte member that around 20 portapotties had been delivered to Marshall Park. I have followed Occupy Charlotte closely since their start in late October in last year, and they were told then they couldn’t have portapotties and they didn’t get them then, even when they were breaking other rules. So I don’t think they’d violate that anti-camping ordinance now and bring in portapotties unless there was a verbal agreement in place that said they could.
Still trying to find out more … stay tuned.
Update – 7:15 PM: Wootson follows up:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. A busload of protesters arrived at Marshall Park Saturday, bringing dozens who joined Occupy Charlotte members in the county park, which is becoming the nexis of protest activity uptown.
But Mecklenburg Commissioner Bill James sent an e-mail to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe reiterating a policy that prohibits camping in county parks.
Protesters told the Observer they’ve worked out a deal with police, who are allowing them to camp there during the Democratic National Convention.
Police spokeswoman Amanda Giannini wouldn’t say whether police made a deal with protesters, but issued an e-mail statement.
“City and County Officials have not given permission to camp in any parks. Local law enforcement is assessing the situation and will evaluate enforcement options to ensure public safety. The City’s intent is to have a peaceful and successful convention.”
Police officers have been watching since the encampment was erected, but have taken no enforcement action.
In an interview with the Observer, James said police asked city and council leaders to pass a law prohibiting camping in parks. “Why would they unilaterally act on their own to violate an ordinance that they asked us to pass?” he asked.
Question of the day.