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DNC protest policy announced
City, county clarify plans for parades, rallies
Published Sunday, April 22, 2012 2:27 pm
by Herbert L. White

It’s OK to protest during the Democratic National Convention – within the law.

The city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County released a joint statement April 20 clarifying “plans for respecting and accommodating citizens’ and visitors’ First Amendment right to free speech and peaceable assembly” at the Sept. 4-6 convention.

City ordinances already allow demonstrations on sidewalks at any time without a permit, and that will be the case during the DNC. The exception is for sidewalks that might be closed for “security transportation or logistical reasons,” according to the joint statement.

County parks will also be available for peaceable demonstrations without a permit and don’t have to be reserved by an individual or group.

The city’s handling of protests has been under scrutiny since last year when Occupy Charlotte advocates camped out at the former City Hall to protest economic disparity. Ultimately, City Council passed an ordinance banning tents and temporary structures as living accommodations on city property.

The U.S. Supreme Court has established public streets, sidewalks and parks as “traditional public forum,” but is regulated by government in terms of reasonable time, place and manner. For example, protesters can’t march in the street during rush hour traffic if it creates a safety hazard for pedestrians and motorists.

Charlotte will also build a “speakers’ platform” where the city will provide microphones and amplifiers to individuals and groups looking to make their point during the convention. The city will open an online application page for access to the speakers’ platform and parade routes in June with times allocated using a random lottery in July.

On the Net:

DNC parade route and speakers’ platform application


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