Occupy Charlotte: the first four weeks in photos (and words) | CLT Blog
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Occupy Charlotte: the first four weeks in photos (and words)

Posted on 26 Oct 2011 by Grant Baldwin

Nearly 4 weeks ago, a local business owner named Tom Shope created a Facebook event to catalyze local involvement in the Occupy movement. Their first gathering on Oct 1 in Marshall Park saw the creation of an organizing committee and a march that afternoon of about 115 people to Bank of America Corporate Center.

Much has happened in the short time since the birth of Occupy Charlotte. One week later, on Oct. 8th, a second march saw a swell of 500 people. As nighttime fell, 30 protesters lingered setting up tents and getting to know one another at Old City Hall. It was this night that the same unified around-the-clock voice resounding across our planet first became audible in Charlotte, NC.

Five committee members, whose names were chosen out of a hat as agreed upon at the Oct 1 gathering (11 were originally chosen, however 6 graciously declined within a few days of the committee drawing), worked hard brainstorming, planning, and organizing as best they could at such an early stage. As they did, the 2.5 dozen Occupiers moved headlong into a steep learning curve.

Challenges

Camera lights blinded them hours before the morning sun, and less-than-professional media outlets unzipped tents of sleeping Occupiers in order to ask for interviews in the dead of night. This culminated with one of Occupy Charlottes first unified actions: during an evening Occupational Assembly it was proposed, voted, and approved by those present to cease their meeting and sit silently until the 3 local television stations who were filming the Occupational Assembly left.

This was not the only turbulence the young movement would see in its first few weeks. During the media silence protest, the creator of the Facebook page, and organizer of the first gathering in Marshall Park, Tom Shope, gave an interview to the media outlets present, against the occupiers unified decision. This was one of several incidents where discord arose between those occupying and Mr. Shope. By Oct 19 it was decided by the General Assembly to officially expel Tom Shope from the Occupy Charlotte movement. Shortly thereafter it was decided by consensus to dissolve the committee formed in Marshall Park as well.

Occupy Charlotte, particularly the most public segment currently occupying the Old City Hall property, has faced a myriad of challenges in its first 3 weeks: learning to live with media, balancing their own socioeconomic and personality differences, an internal rift resulting in the expulsion of the most public face for Occupy Charlotte, chilly rain soaked nights, creating a functional and useful camp, and of course, the nearest restrooms beings 3 blocks away. The list goes on. While these issues have slowed the Occupiers from some of their initial momentum, they have by no means been choked out.

The Present

The days leading up to the fourth and most recent march on Sat, Oct 22 saw a shift in energy among those braving the chilly fall nights. The shared experience of perseverance has resulted in a newfound cohesiveness.

The week leading up to the 22nd saw more working groups being defined, and within the groups already defined, more planning and organization of tasks. From this new growth, the decision was made to hold a free community dinner after Saturday’s march in order to foster connectedness and constructive conversation with anyone who wanted to know more about the Occupy Charlotte and Occupy Together movements.

Saturday’s march drew about 160 people and marked two significant firsts for Occupy Charlotte. A permit for a public address system to be placed in front of the Bank of America Corporate Center was obtained and used to great effect. Motivating words were shared and towards the end of the protest, the mic was opened up so that anyone who wished could step up, state their name, where they were from, and that they stood with the 99%.

The march was also the first to see arrests when two young men who had not marched with the group were crossing Tryon St. in order to get closer look. Police told them not to cross against the signal, but when the men ignored them, they were arrested and charged with impeding traffic. No violence or disorder occurred during the arrest process.

Back at Old City Hall, a portion of the occupiers had been working diligently since early that morning preparing food for the community dinner. On the menu was pasta with tomato sauce, sautéed fresh vegetables, a hearty soup with grains and greens, salad, and bread. Gluten-free and vegan portions were available to those with stricter diets. Food supplies and equipment were provided through donations given by individuals and local businesses.

All together, every one of the 160 people who came were fed. For hours following the meal, people sat around, discussing their personal views on the state of the world and what the Occupy movement should and should not be. This time of honest and fruitful problem solving is perhaps Occupy Charlotte’s biggest success so far. Without the shared experiences of the challenges faced, without the processes of direct democracy, and without the cooperation of all those involved, from Occupiers to donors, the tangible connections would never have been possible.

Structure

The operational structure of Occupy Charlotte is still evolving, but so far there are a few key groups. Though I’ve mentioned these before, they could stand to be explained in further detail.

First and foremost, the General Assembly. These are the larger meetings with are usually held when the greatest number of participants are present, ie after a march, in which decisions are made concerning the positions, objectives, actions and goals of the Occupy Charlotte movement as a whole are defined and refined. These meetings are run using Direct Democracy procedures and carry the most impact on Occupy Charlotte making participation by as many as possible vital to their effectiveness.

Then there is the Occupational Assembly. This is a twice daily meeting in which all those staying on Old City Hall property gather to discuss the needs and issues of the day that pertain to those occupying Old City Hall. These primarily address immediate issues facing them and logistical decision making for the camp.  These meetings are run using Direct Democracy procedures.

And finally, there are the Working Groups. These are groups of volunteers who have committed themselves to addressing, solving, or otherwise handling a task to be accomplished, or goal to be achieved through analysis, planning, and then do-ing. Some examples are the Internet Working Group, Logistics Working Group, and Media Working Group. All Working Groups report their progress at each General Assembly, and ask the General Assembly to make any decisions that need to be made by the Occupy Charlotte movement as a whole.

Looking forward

The numbers attending the official marches have dropped from 500 at their peak to 160 at their lowest, but the number of Occupiers at Old City Hall has steadily grown to just over 40 people, with more expressing that they can join soon. As for whether or not this newfound focus and purposefulness within Occupy Charlotte is the beginning of a larger trend, or it is too little too late, rests on the shoulders of the Occupiers and those supporting them. It also rests with every single Charlottean (and all those within earshot of the Occupy Charlotte movement) who want their voice to be heard, to attend at least one General Assembly meeting and participate in the proceedings. It’s vital that we do so to ensure everyone’s views are represented within the Occupy movement as a whole.

Comments

  1. Eric 26 Oct 2011 at 4:06 PM

    We no longer hold Occupational assemblies. A GA is held each day.

  2. Jenn 26 Oct 2011 at 5:34 PM

    General Assembly times:
    Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday GA1:00 pm
    Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 7:00 pm
    Saturday — 3:00 pm

    Join us anytime @ 600 E. Trade St. (Uptown) Charlotte, NC

    • PfftWhatever! 28 Oct 2011 at 9:07 AM

      I would just like to say thank you to the Occupy folks for spending the Charlotte area taxpayers money. According to Capt. Jeff Estes, “The total cost for police services in relation to Occupy Charlotte since its inception is approximately $92,224.38.” I guess thats how y’all want to spread the wealth… good job asshats!!

      • yourdumbnessamusesme 29 Oct 2011 at 9:20 AM

        Yes, yes indeed. Go back home. Give up. Give in. Roll on your back in submission and just get back to letting the rich parasite class feed off of you.

        Repeat after me: “Give up, give in, surrender.”

  3. SlightlyConfused 27 Oct 2011 at 12:39 PM

    I may be missing something here, but what exactly was the point of getting the media to leave you alone? Isn’t being heard basically the short term goal of this entire thing? Even if the news were to put their own spin on what they filmed (as they typically do), isn’t it good to get as much exposure as possible?

    • Rob W 28 Oct 2011 at 6:38 AM

      It sounds as though the presence of the media was sufficiently disruptive and detrimental to the quality of life of the Occupiers that they felt the need to demonstrate with silence, either as symbolism or punishment or both. part of what’s really neat about Occupiers using direct democracy or consensus-based decision making is that there’s a structured and formal vehicle for making this decision.

      That said, I’m inclined to agree with you. If I were sleeping in a tent out in public and my tent was opened by anyone I didn’t know, especially with a camera and a bright light I’d wig out…but in the end I’d want to take the opportunity for press exposure.

      tl;dr — I agree with you, but more power to the Occupiers for putting the decision through their process.

      • Duh 30 Oct 2011 at 11:30 AM

        If you are going to live on public property, you kinda have to live with the fact that it is public property and you shoul have no expectation of privacy

    • ThomasinaP 22 Nov 2011 at 11:57 AM

      It was a matter of respect.

      Would the media have banged on Foxx’s door or County Manager Walton’s door in the middle of the night?
      Or picked the locks and barged in?

  4. bobert 28 Oct 2011 at 1:38 PM

    Lets see…you dont have jobs because you are covered in tattoos, dyed hair, and piercings.

    You are using Duke Energy power to run your corporate branded computers.

    Your signs and computer pledge allegiance to Apple — the largest corporation by market cap. How does that make sense?

    You didn’t understand my last sentence because you have no clue what ‘market cap’ means.

    You can’t get a government job because they can’t afford new staff because they are spending the taxpayer’s money to keep your protests in line.

    You aren’t the 99%. The 99% are working to earn a living, support their family, pay for your entitlements, and not complaining about how everyone else is doing their jobs. The real 99% are not selfish and whining brats. The real 99% think your stupid.

    The companies that you complain about put food on your parents table, put you through college/

    The companies that you complain about build your pensions, retirement plans, 401k’s, and provide you with income when you are retired and on a fixed income. If you didnt take advantage of these programs, then don’t complain because others did.

    Go home. Wash your hair. Put on a shirt that isn’t a T-shirt. Get a job, education or join the military. Contribute to society. That’s the only way to get out of this mess.

    For best results, put the same amount of energy into contributing to society as you do complaining about society.

    • Mike 28 Oct 2011 at 4:06 PM

      Well said!!

    • YoureAnUneducatedDick 29 Oct 2011 at 12:23 AM

      excuse me bobert, I am part of the 99%. i own my own business, and i have a few employees of my own. i have income, and i pay my power bill. i also have a mohawk, tattoos all over my arms, and wear t-shirts. i even have an education, a bachelor’s degree in computer science, imagine that!!! i worked hard to pay my way through school WITHOUT loans. did you go to college? grants, loans, or a silver spoon? my hair, albeit a mohawk, is washed daily. my clothes are clean.

      you should probably go down to the camp and talk to some of the lawyers, city officials, Franciscan Friars and Buddhist monks who stay down there at the camp. people who have lives, jobs, families, etc, before you talk shit.

      go down there to the Occupy camp and tell one of the veterans of a foreign war who stay, and tell them to put the same amount of energy into contributing to society as your sorry ass puts into hiding behind a computer to whine about people you know nothing about.

      the city government couldn’t afford to hire before the entire Occupy movement began. are you blind? look at all the useless money they put into earmarks so you can watch football while you’re looking for a job.

      • grateful 29 Oct 2011 at 8:26 PM

        Thank you, “You’re An…” for replying to this guy’s prejudiced (and I mean that in the most literal sense — pre-judged) comments. I wasn’t aware of the diverse representatives you describe but I’m not surprised. I wish I too had the opportunity (but alas do not with very young children), and yes, the courage — to add my presence to your voices. Rest assured there are probably a lot more Americans like me, a silent majority, thinking with gratitude,“It’s about time!”, than there are people like “bobert” above.

    • ThomasinaP 22 Nov 2011 at 11:50 AM

      (quoting Bobert)

      The real 99% think your stupid.”

      Actually, no. Polls are confirming that the MAJORITY of Americans support the OWS movement. As more and more people become familiar with the movement, the numbers are rising.

      As to these folks not being able to get a government job, that is most likely a matter of choice not to participate in a wasteful, non-representational government rather than chance.

      Our local governments, both City and County, are just as guilty as Congress when it comes to ignoring the people’s will and wasting tax dollars, accepting corporate campaign contributions that result in spending we don’t need or want, and blurring the line between the private and public sectors.
      Just a few examples:
      former (thank God) mayor Pat Mc Crory, was an employee of Duke Power. Oh, yeah, he was impartial to Duke’s chafing at the bit to build yet ANOTHER nuclear facility, and I’m sure the contacts he made in Raleigh while Mayor didn’t help THAT steamroller project at all.…

      The new Coliseum to replace a coliseum that was less than 10 years old (wonder who owned the properties involved…hmmm?)

      The obvious disdain for public opinion exhibited by the previous mayor in his “nonbinding referendums” (not to mention his habit of blatantly ignoring ordinary(non-business) citizens’ concerns as they spoke before Council, making a point of whispering to others, looking around, shuffling papers, etc., to make clear his disdain)

      The very DESIGN of the City Council meeting room gives observers nosebleeds, Starting down the steps to approach the speaker’s podium brings an attack of vertigo as one tries not to think about missing a step and tumbling down the steep stairs and breaking a leg. What a thoughtful architectural design.

      The recent tax-ploit of the people in “revaluating” homes at absurdly inflated prices in a real estate market still in decline and increasingly glutted with foreclosures. This tax “valuation”, according to the appraisal office, resulted in over 40,000 formal tax appeals not to mention the thousands of “informal” ones and was patently obvious in its objective: fund the budget at all costs.
      AND–fyi,I asked an experienced county appraiser why a nice neighborhood down the way from my home in south Charlotte had been so severely devalued in the 2003 taxploit. He candidly advised me that the then-being-planned LYNX was in his opinion the cause. The deliberate devaluation appeared designed to encourage the homeowners to start vacating–so that BUSINESSES could snap up land in such close proximity to the line!

      My lower-middle-class property tax went up 40+ % that year (I appealed). Research of that same year revaluation showed that Sue Myrick’s downtown Ward property tax went up a huge $75.00.
      And a strip mall in lower Dilworth reflected the SAME property valuation it had maintained since 1980.
      Hmmmm. See what I mean?

      _WHICH, by the way, makes it glaringly evident that they are focused on imposing their budgetary needs for inefficient and self-governing bureaucracy on the middle class instead of the rich and powerful.
      And if anyone has the interest, try checking out the tax revals on the County MGR Walton’s & staff’s homes.
      Just for kicks. That might raise your eyebrows. Not to mention the need for local scrutiny and reform.
      NOTE: Time for an ELECTED, not appointed, TAX ASSESSOR.

      So the Occupy Charlotte Movement has my solid vote.

      Mayor Foxx’s decision to cave to downtown businesses and their “we don’t want this annoyance” pressure and contemplating trying to “ordinance” away the Constitutional right of the citizens to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly to protest injustices~~

      VERY BAD MOVE, politically, morally, ethically.

      As to wasting tax dollars: Mecklenburg County street-paving dept head who responded to my complaint about an on-site objection I raised to the repaving of a pristine street –a DEAD-END street occupied by two driveway connections–said, well yes, it was an error, but their error rate overall was less than 1%.
      Well first of all, that is most likely a statistical impossibility given the government’s proclivity for screwing up, and secondly, their stated annual budget was a few BILLION dollars. Even 1% of ONE billion dollars is a CRAPLOAD of money wasted.

      NOTE: re: McCrory’s cronies
      (quoted from http://www.digtriad.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=197478)

      During the 2008 campaign, McCrory called on then-Lt. Gov. Perdue to give up contributions from (Billy) Sewell and his father, Louis Sewell, then a state Board of Transportation member. A published report found the elder Sewell helped steer thousands in taxpayer dollars to road improvement projects near properties that he or his son co-owned. Louis Sewell resigned from the board on the same day he was supposed to have held a fundraiser for Perdue.

      In his eyes, (Billy) Sewell is a ‘disgrace’ until he makes a contribution to McCrory’s campaign,” Farinella said. “It apparently doesn’t take much money to change McCrory’s views of right and wrong.’

      (Sewell is co-hosting a fundraiser for McCrory in the current election).”

      (end quote)

      And btw, I am not an unwashed, tattooed person, though I respect anyone’s right to do whatever the hell they want to do with their own bodies,
      I am a retired senior citizen circa the 60’s a caregiver who has chosen not to go the nursing home route for my mother.

      The lack of oversight of the nursing home business is a whole ‘nother story. I hope Occupy Charlotte/WallStreet adds that to the issues on their agenda.

      So all those shivering at Old City Hall and all others making the effort to speak out on behalf of those who are rushing back and forth to work in survival mode,

      I SALUTE YOU! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

  5. CitizenX 28 Oct 2011 at 2:36 PM

    @bobert — It’s obvious that you have bought into the Fox News version of what these people are protesting. Maybe if you spent as much time reading the Occupy websites as you did typing up that diatribe you might have a clue.

    In my opinion, the basic reasons that informed the beginning of the Tea Party also form the Occupy protests. I don’t remember any of you telling the Tea Party to “wash their hair” or “Put on a shirt that isn’t a T-shirt”. That, my friend, is the embodiment of hypocrisy.

  6. bobert 28 Oct 2011 at 2:58 PM

    Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing another.

    Stupidity is assuming that I am part of the tea party.

    Reality is that I tell them the same thing I tell the occupy folks.

  7. Tom 28 Oct 2011 at 3:14 PM

    The stink of long haired, maggot infested, dope smoking FM types even comes through the pics. I put up with this during Vietnam…It ain’t gonna happen no more. How many police have been roughed up by these mal-contents like the 20 or so officers in NYC.. No police ever got hurt during tea party rallies! Bring lots of rotten eggs to throw at this worthless crowd next time I’m downtown.

    • YoureAnUneducatedDick 29 Oct 2011 at 12:28 AM

      yeah, come downtown and throw some stuff at the Franciscan Friars. priests. the smell of your fat, unwashed old ass pours through the internet. sit at home and jerk off.

      • YoureAnUneducatedDick 29 Oct 2011 at 12:29 AM

        oh yeah, i’m sure that the foreign war vets down there would love everything you have to throw at them too.

  8. iamreadyforthecause 29 Oct 2011 at 1:33 PM

    hey i’m in the %99, i got no job and my parents are gonna kick me out for getting fired from my recent job for showing up drunk all the time. im gonna join the cause and be part of occupy and show the bad guys that i mean business while drinking and partying at the same time. maybe i’ll even get laid! this is gonna be fun!

  9. Charles 30 Oct 2011 at 10:23 PM

    MORONS