Hundreds of protesters turned out to this weekend’s “March on Wall Street South” in Charlotte, North Carolina, as the Democratic National Convention kicked off. About 800 marchers (organizers put the count at more than a thousand) carried signs and banners, banged drums and chanted slogans, in what Police Chief Rodney Monroe described as a “mostly uneventful” demonstration (protests are usually described by the establishment media and law enforcement as either being “uneventful” or exercises in chaotic anarchy).
Activists expressed an array of grievances, but the main issues centered around the peace movement, unionized labor, immigration, corporate greed and a perceived betrayal by President Obama.
For example, the AP reports that one demonstrator marched with a sign that read: “OBAMA MURDERS CHILDREN WITH DRONES.”
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a British nonprofit organization, 175 children have been killed by drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia since 2004. In total, Obama has overseen 285 drone strikes with thousands of casualties reported, in addition to over a thousand injured.
At least 100 police officers walked along the parade, carrying gas masks, batons and plastic hand-ties, and the AP reports that a police helicopter hovered so low to the march that activists could feel the wind off its rotors.
Protesters passed the corporate headquarters of Bank of America and a major hub of Wells Fargo, two of the biggest recipients of the massive taxpayer-funded bailout in 2008.
The AP reports that on two occasions, protesters sat and locked arms outside of corporate headquarters. Around two dozen individuals sat for about ten minutes outside Bank of America’s skyscraper but then moved on. A second action followed with a similar-sized group outside Duke Energy, but those protesters also got up and left after a short demonstration.
Duke Energy is a target of GreenPeace USA’s Robert Gardner, who is critical of the company’s environmental record. Specifically, activists take issue with the utility giant’s continued policy of building coal-fired plants and moving ahead with new nuclear plants.
Police told WBTV that two people were arrested, one young man, who reportedly was not a protester, for disorderly conduct, assaulting a government official, and resisting arrest. A young woman was also arrested, allegedly after being caught with a mask and knife.
As they marched, protesters chanted 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.
“He does not represent the interest of the people, the interest of women. He’s dropped drones on innocent children around the world. He’s continued Bush’s program of rendition,” said Sunsara Taylor of the Revolutionary Communist Party to YNN.
Others tentatively expressed support for the president.
“I hate to say I’m going to vote for the less of two evils, but yes, I’m going to vote for Obama,” said Allyson Caison of Code Pink to YNN.
Labor advocates in particular expressed frustration with Obama and the Democratic Party for choosing North Carolina, a state that is hostile to the right of workers to unionize, as the site for this year’s DNC. Inside the convention, despite the presence of large delegate presences from unions like the SEIU, UAW and AFSCME, there seems to be no labor speakers on the publicly posted schedule.
“A lot of workers in general, and a lot of organized workers in particular, feel that they have nowhere to go. And some of them, probably most of them, will sit out the election,” said Richard Koritz of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
Some demonstrators called for an end to foreclosures, and for bankers to stand trial for their role in causing the financial crisis.
“At this point, we are literally foreclosing on our neighbors every day with our tax dollars,” Detroit foreclosure attorney Vanessa Fluker said to Press TV. “I have friends fighting in the war in Afghanistan and Bank of America is trying to throw them out on the street every day.”