Police chief: Pre-DNC march is mostly uneventful
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Hundreds of protesters marched through Charlotte's central business district Sunday ahead of the Democratic National Convention in a demonstration that was lively but largely uneventful.
About 800 marchers carried signs and banners, banged drums and chanted on a sunny afternoon as part of the March on Wall Street South. The march's general purpose was to decry corporate greed, but it drew people demonstrating for a variety of causes.
The turnout was a fraction of the thousands organizers were expecting for what had been planned as the week's biggest protest. The convention starts Tuesday
Police Chief Rodney Monroe said things went smoothly and with few problems. At least one person was arrested for intoxication, but he couldn't provide further details. Monroe also said police chased a man holding rocks off an overpass along the march route, but didn't apprehend him.
On two occasions, protesters attempted to be disruptive by sitting and locking arms outside of corporate headquarters, but police took no action. About two-dozen sat for about 10 minutes in front of Bank of America's skyscraper but moved on after they were largely ignored by officers. They had the phone numbers of lawyers written on their arms.
A similar-sized group sat down in front of the headquarters for Duke Energy but eventually got up and left.
The route of the march also took demonstrators by a major office hub for Wells Fargo. It and Bank of America are two of the nation's largest financial institutions and beneficiaries of massive taxpayer-backed loans during the 2008 bailout of the financial sector. Both banks have also been criticized for roles in the home foreclosure crisis.
Hundreds of officers were on hand to monitor the demonstrators. Some walked along with the parade, carrying gas masks, wooden batons and plastic hand ties. Others stood at intervals of a few feet apart along the route. A police helicopter hovered so low that people on the ground could feel the wind off its rotors.
Many officers were seen smiling and chatting with the marchers.
Aided by the pleasant weather, the protesters showed more spirit than their rain-soaked counterparts at last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa. There, effects of Hurricane Isaac's outer bands thinned the ranks of protesters.
The Charlotte demonstrators had anti-war signs as well as those promoting unionized labor and the plight of undocumented immigrants. One read: "Bankrupting America" with a font and logo that mimicked Bank of America. Another said: "OBAMA MURDERS CHILDREN WITH DRONES."
Participants ranged from young girls in cheerleading outfits and parents pushing strollers to Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in black shirts and red bandannas.
As they walked, some were chanting in unison: "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out."
Mark Bailey, 58, carried an anti-war sign in honor of his son, who has done two tours in Iraq and is currently in Afghanistan. Bailey came to Charlotte from Cleveland with about a dozen friends.
Bailey voted for Obama in 2008, but said he won't make the mistake this year. He said he is disgusted the president turned out more like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.
"He's willing to make war anywhere, just like they were," Bailey said.
Associated Press writers Gary Robertson and Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report.