By Ben Carroll
From Sept. 1-6, poor and working people from across the world will march on the “Wall Street of the South” in Charlotte, N.C.
The Coalition to Protest at the Democratic National Convention held its national organizing conference April 14 in Charlotte to discuss action plans. Activists from throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Detroit, Atlanta, New York City and Philadelphia discussed and adopted action plans for the first week in September.
The coalition represents more than 60 organizations from across the country, including organized labor, peace and anti-war groups, students and youth, immigrant rights organizations, Occupy groups and more.
Reports and updates were heard from members of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee; Committee to Stop FBI Repression; Coalition to March on the RNC; Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO; the Moratorium Now! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs; North Carolina Coalition Against Corporate Power; Occupy 4 Jobs Network; United 4 the Dream; Occupy groups throughout North Carolina and other states; and the Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement, among others.
Plans for actions take shape
The conference resolved to call a major March on Wall Street South demonstration on Sunday, Sept. 2. Charlotte is second only to New York City in the amount of finance capital concentrated in the city. It is home to the world headquarters of Bank of America and the eastern headquarters of Wells Fargo, two of the most notorious and hated institutions among the big banks because of the attacks they are making on our communities — with home foreclosures, student loan debt, funding the prison-industrial complex and more.
Other actions discussed and adopted for the week of Sept. 1-6 include a Southern Worker’s Assembly; a People’s Tribunal on the Banks; supporting Charlotte’s Labor Day march; and a Youth/Student “Education not Deportation” Festival. Occupy events and actions will also take place throughout the week.
Mayra Arteaga, an activist with the youth immigrant rights group United 4 the Dream, reported that “The conference went extremely well. There was a lot of support from other organizations to help us mobilize Latino/a youth and students to participate in the actions around the DNC, especially the ‘Education not Deportation’ festival, and to encourage us in our goals to get the word out about the need for education in this country.”
Organizers demand right to protest
The city of Charlotte still has not granted any protest permits despite the coalition’s efforts to secure permits for the past seven months. If the city does not grant them, the coalition will launch a major campaign to demand the city issue permits.
The coalition, along with leaders from organizations across the U.S., held a press conference at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on April 13 to announce plans to march during the DNC and to again demand permits. Elena Everett, co-chair of the Legal and Permits working group of the coalition, said, “The rights of the people to present their demands for economic, social and political justice to the delegates of a major electoral party must not be curtailed by excessive delay tactics.”
“We won’t tolerate any effort to stop us from exercising our constitutional rights to protest,” said Larry Holmes, with Occupy 4 Jobs in New York. “If they have to arrest 10,000 of us, if we have to fill the jails … we will be here.”
Reports from RNC organizing
A delegation from the Coalition to March on the RNC traveled from Florida to attend the conference and report on their organizing for protests during the Republican National Convention, to be held in Tampa from Aug. 27-30. Their coalition is also fighting the city of Tampa for permits to march on the opening day of the convention. The two coalitions are working closely together and building solidarity for demonstrations at the conventions of the two pro-war, pro-Wall-Street parties.
An organizer with the N.C. Coalition Against Corporate Power also gave an update on an upcoming major demonstration at Bank of America’s shareholders’ meeting on May 9 in Charlotte.
Overall, the conference represented a big step forward in the work to build for demonstrations during the DNC and to sharpen the focus on the big banks and corporations that call Charlotte home.
Over the coming months, organizers with the coalition will be participating in many mobilizations across the country as well as conducting an organizing and outreach tour to help spread the word and engage a broader base around the Sept. 1-6 actions.
For more information and to find out how you can get involved, visit protestdnc.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 704-266-0362.