CMPD refuses to follow ordinance & keep counter-protesters separate from rally

Cindy Sheehan & Other Activists Demand Impeachment in Charlotte
by David Dixon, Action Center For Justice

July 17, 2007 - Cindy Sheehan lead two rallies in Charlotte yesterday calling for the impeachment of President George Bush and Dick Cheney, an end to the war in Iraq and in defense of the U.S. Constitution.

A noon rally at Rep. Mel Watt's office was attended by some 50 people. Cindy Sheehan led a delegation of Watt's constituents into his office where they spoke with a member of his staff. They asked that Rep. Watt introduce articles of impeachment on Bush and support H. Res 333 to impeach Cheney.

A rally scheduled for 5:00 pm at Bryant Park had to be moved to a private business, Talley's Green Grocery, because the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police refused to keep counter-protesters a safe distance away as requested repeatedly by organizers and participants.

The City of Charlotte Code of Ordinances Book states under Section X, Picketing, Sec. 19-303 Picketing Regulations:

(a) Picketing may be conducted on public sidewalks, at the Old City Hall lawn, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center plaza, Marshall Park, Polk Park, Independence Square Plaza, Arequipa Park, any other city-controlled park, or other city-owned areas normally used or reserved for pedestrian movement, including easements and rights-of-way, and shall not be conducted on the portion of the public roadway used primarily for vehicular traffic .

e) If more than one group of picketers desire to picket at the same time at or near the same location, law enforcement officers may, without regard to the purpose or content of the message, assign each group a place to picket in order to preserve the public peace. Members of a group shall not enter an area assigned to another group. Priority of location shall be based upon which group of picketers arrived first.

(f) Spectators of pickets shall not physically interfere with individuals engaged in picketing. Picketers and spectators of pickets shall not speak fighting words or threats that would tend to provoke a reasonable person to a breach of the peace.

Prior to the 5:00 pm rally, David Dixon, Coordinator of Action Center For Justice spoke with CMPD officer K.D. Faulkner by phone at 2:24 pm . He asked that we wait about 15 minutes for him to get to Bryant Park and assign the groups the area they would be in. The counter-protesters arrived first and we told Officer Faulkner & his Sergeant that so they could pick out their spot.

They and other officers that arrived later told us they could not keep the groups separate. This is simply not true.

Action Center For Justice had obtained the picketing permit & sound permit for the rally, but it was co-organized by several other groups including Gold Star Families For Peace, The Camp Casey Peace Institute, Veterans For Peace,, CODEPINK Charlotte, Grassroots Impeachment Movement, and World Can't Wait – Greensboro .

The counter-protesting group, Gathering Of Eagles, has threatened Cindy Sheehan & her supporters in the past and has spoke "fighting words or threats that would tend to provoke a reasonable person to a breach of the peace" at events organized by these same peace & justice organizations. This happened most recently April 21, 2007 in Greensboro, NC with all these same groups. (See ).

On July 16, David Dixon sent the posting on Gathering Of Eagles & their website address concerning our July 17 rally to CMPD to which they responded that they were already aware of that groups plans.

Before and after the time the rally was supposed to start, David Dixon & other national & local activists complained to police that their was a history between the groups present. Dixon explained that the groups are always kept separated, generally by small metal gates & police officers. One officer told Dixon they couldn't do anything until "fists started flying, then we can arrest people."

National, regional & local activists all complained that this was the worst "performance" they had ever seen by a police department. This is particularly disturbing as many that were there travel across the country to events frequently.

This is also an embarrassment to the City of Charlotte. Cindy Sheehan is like a celebrity to local and national media. They hound her like the paparazzi. Just prior to the rally, she was at the local NBC station appearing on Hardball with Chris Matthews. Her writings get republished in blogs & websites all over the world.

Later that evening, Sheehan, on a local newscast speaking from Talley's, said she could not speak at the rally because " Charlotte police won't keep the groups separated." How is it going to make the City of Charlotte look as Sheehan tells people and media across the country about her experience here?

Although the City of Charlotte didn't make it easy, Cindy Sheehan was able to successfully address her supporters later that evening.

Video of Gold Star Dad Carlos Arredondo in Charlotte July 17

Americans Speak Out with Journey For Humanity July 17

Citizens Speak Out about Police with Journey For Humanity in Charlotte

Click here for photos.

Click here to read report.

Press coverage of Cindy Sheehan in Charlotte.

No comments:

Post a Comment