The Legal Dose – Episode 6

September 11, 2012

Welcome back to season two of the Legal Dose! We’re starting off this season with some extra special coverage of the 2012 Democratic National Convention since it happened right here in Charlotte, North Carolina. Sit back and listen to some key people like Rob Zerban and Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx discuss the importance of this event and political awareness overall. Check in with some pretty cool green-hat-wearing National Lawyers Guild Legal Observers and get revved up with a hype BET Respect My Vote report. The Legal Dose is back for another exciting run!

Listen to the full episode HERE!


Making Your Voice Heard, and Hoping Someone Hears It

September 10, 2012

The week of the DNC has passed, and people of all stripes have made their opinions known to large and small audiences from the streets of Charlotte, to a world-wide television audience.  Having both been a Legal Observer for small factions of marching protestors and having also listened intently to the speeches given each night from the floor of Time Warner Arena, I cannot help but hold some continuing sense of disillusionment with the depth and breadth of political discourse in our country.  I also hold out great hope that our First Amendment rights will continue to trickle and weather the stone that makes up our political structures.  As voters and citizens, that is how our founders intended our votes and voices to work.

On Sunday, I along with several other students from Charlotte Law began working with the National Lawyers Guild as Legal Observers for the various protest marches scheduled for the week of the DNC.  The ordinances passed by the City of Charlotte required scheduling marches to help them ensure that the citizens of Charlotte were assuaged of their fear of the chaos and mayhem they told us comes with too much free speech.  While I wonder how free anyone would feel while marching in a rolling box of police officers, I will say that Charlotte Police Chief Rodney Monroe impressed me several times this week with his willingness to both listen to, and bargain with the various protest groups.  He was ever present, and was a calming force for both the police and protestors.  I also never once saw a police officer try to restrict the verbal content of the various protests.

Police Chief Rodney Monroe confers with an Occupy Charlotte protester. They were able to reach the compromise that the protesters’ demonstration could continue down the street provided they marched only on the sidewalk. Photo Credit: Evan C.

I was equally impressed with the bravery and resolution of the various protest groups inside the box.  While there were several groups represented, I was closest to a group of undocumented workers marching with No Papers, No Fear, anti-war protestors with Code Pink, the banking reform advocates with Occupy Wall St. South, and anarchists associated with the black rubber boot hat wearing Vermin Supreme.  While smaller in number than anticipated by both the protestors and the police, each group made their opinions heard as best and as loud as they could given the circumstances.  I observed for a total of four days during the convention, but Sunday was by far the largest and most diverse in terms of opinions voiced.

Each night, I tuned in to see if any of the speakers with the DNC would address the concerns of the protestors I walked with.  I also watched the speakers at the RNC the week before.  The maxim coined by James Carville, “It’s the economy stupid.” certainly received top billing with the speechwriters at both conventions.  I guess if you want to win an election, trying to avoid the topic would be futile and unwise.   But the concerns I heard expressed by the protestors delineated problems that, while marginal in terms of securing four more years, are unavoidable realities.  Having Hispanic mayors or US Senators speaking at your convention certainly gives the impression that you might be concerned with undocumented workers, but I never heard any meaningful policy directed at dealing with the fact that there are 11.5 million undocumented people living in our country, nor the truth that physically deporting that many people is not just impractical, it’s impossible.  Avoided also was the reality that the war in Afghanistan is soon moving on into its thirteenth year with no clear date as to when that will end.  President Obama suggested that we would see the end of our occupation by the end of 2014, but soon backed away from making that a promise.  The most popular of the protestors concerns in terms of words used by speakers was banking reform.  Obama has touted his successes in addressing some of the systemic problems in the banking industry; however, it doesn’t seem that many on either side of the issue are satisfied with the policy thus far enacted.

The lasting impression I will carry from all of this is that there are people who really care about the details of our governmental policy.  I watched the police arrest six very brave young adults who were opposed to the manner by which energy companies operate within the regulatory framework of our national energy policy.  I wonder how many of the people making sarcastic remarks in the comments section of the article on charlotteobserver.com were arrested in their youth for something really important like drinking underage?  Anyway, I also recognize that politicians keep their rhetoric in the shallower water as diving too deep might just associate you with that small group of people willing to brave city ordinance, police, heat, rain, and the disdain of those less passionate about expressing their opinion.  After all, how much can 500 people marching in a confined space bordered by police really mean to winning an election anyway?

Oh, I almost forgot about Vermin Supreme.  I definitely didn’t hear anyone on any stage match his offer of free ponies to each citizen. Bummer…

By: Cleat Walters III


Activists Release Statement Concerning Possible Police Abuses During the DNC

September 8, 2012

The activist group Occupy the DNC has released a statement concerning the arrest of two demonstrators during the DNC on Thursday. A female protester was apparently arrested for carrying a flag on a pole, something that could be construed as prohibited by the DNC Ordinances which read: “[d]uring . . . an extraordinary event, it shall be unlawful for any person, other than governmental employees in the performance of their duties, to willfully or intentionally possess, carry, control or have immediate access to any of the following: (1) A bar, chain, shaft, staff, cable, wire, lumber, or plastic pipe capable of inflicting serious injury to a person if thrown at or struck upon another, except as permitted by City Code Sec. 19-303(d).”

Section 19-303(d) of the City Code sets out the requirements of signs, placards and flags carried during a demonstration. “Written or printed placards or signs, flags, or banners carried by individuals engaged in picketing shall be of such a size and/or carried on the sidewalks or other city-owned areas, as to allow safe and unobstructed passage of pedestrian or vehicular traffic. The staff or pole on which a sign, flag, or banner may be carried shall be made of corrugated material, plastic, or wood, and shall not exceed 40 inches in length and shall not be made of metal or metal alloy. If made of wood, the staff or pole shall be no greater than three-fourths inch in diameter at any point. A staff or pole must be blunt at both ends.” Activists contend that the flag did not violate any laws. The woman was charged with “City/Town Violation (Misdemeanor).”

A male protester was arrested during the same incident and was charged with disorderly conduct. The activists’ believe that he was arrested without cause. In relevant part, North Carolina State law defines disorderly conduct as “a public disturbance intentionally caused by any person who does any of the following: (1) Engages in fighting or other violent conduct or in conduct creating the threat of imminent fighting or other violence. (2) Makes or uses any utterance, gesture, display or abusive language which is intended and plainly likely to provoke violent retaliation and thereby cause a breach of the peace.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-288.4.

The activists also outline what they are calling the government’s “war on truth,”  and contend that these two arrests are just another part of that effort.

The full statement is reproduced below:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Protesters Arrested in the War on Truth

Charlotte, NC, September 6th, 2012 – Two Occupy the DNC protesters were arrested today while peacefully marching in downtown Charlotte.

The Protesters were marching legally through downtown Charlotte, NC, at around 3pm when they were surrounded by law enforcement officers from numerous agencies. A female protester was confronted and was told her flag was not allowed, although the flag was within legal parameters. When the female protester questioned officers on the legality of counter-protesters signs, she was ignored and followed.

After being surrounded by Charlotte police and other agencies, the protester asked if she was being detained or arrested, but she received no answer. Being within her rights, and having questioned the officers multiple times without receiving a response, she announced her intent to leave and walked away. As she left, officers rushed her and, without telling her she was arrested, took her into custody.

After the female protester was detained, a fellow male protester was also surrounded and subsequently arrested without cause or action.

All of the above was captured on video and is available upon request. The video is unedited, raw and audible.

Hours later, President Obama accepted his nomination as the Democratic party’s candidate for the presidency.

Today is also the day we call for an end to the war on truth.

Pfc. Bradley Manning has been detained since May 29, 2010, for exposing war crimes committed during both the Bush and Obama administrations. Manning leaked this information to WikiLeaks for which the United States is also attempting to extradite the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange.

The war on truth has also led to over 7,400 Occupy-related arrests, many of which were the result of selective enforcement and/or were otherwise illegitimate. This increased crackdown on dissent must be questioned, and awareness must be raised. These brave people are not acting without reason. Barack Obama has a 48% disapproval rating, and Congress has an 82% disapproval rating.

This is not for the Obama administration alone; during George W. Bush’s second term his disapproval rating was at 78%. Both parties are at fault as are their corporate sponsors. Obama and Romney have accepted campaign contributions from many of the same companies (Goldman Sachs, Citi Group, etc.), and actually agree on many topics (NDAA, bailouts, NAFTA, war). Both parties also actively attempt to suppress 3rd party candidates (Gary Johnson, Jill Stein).

Obama said he would veto the NDAA 2011, then signed it into law on New Years eve while the country partied. He has also stated he would try to “overturn Citizens United”, which would reduce the influence of corporate money on politics and constrain the never-ending war waged on behalf of corporate interests. This war costs more than money, it costs lives. As drones are killing unarmed civilians, including children, our troops are dying for corporate profits.

The crimes and broken promises of this government have not gone unnoticed, the corruption of the 2-party system can no longer continue and the corporate influence of our political system must come to an end. The truth needs to come out, and the persecution of the people telling the truth needs to stop.

Occupy the DNC gathered at Marshall Park in downtown Charlotte, NC during the 2012 Democratic National Convention to protest many social, political and economic issues including corporate influence in government, Citizens United, the Koch brothers, and President Obama’s support of the NDAA and drone strikes overseas.”


In Photos: A Final Night of Protest at the DNC

September 7, 2012

Demonstrators took to the streets on the final night of the DNC. They spoke out against a number of issues, but primarily against the rise in corporate influence in society and the government, and general dissatisfaction with the government’s direction and lack of effectivity. The protest was peaceful despite tension over arrests earlier in the day and rumors that police were planning arrests for that night.

Protesters returned to Marshall Park after the march. This morning, after President Obama departed Charlotte, the protesters were given the order that they must vacate the park. The demonstrators packed their belongings and left peacefully.

All photos courtesy of Evan C.


Final DNC Arrest Wrapup

September 7, 2012

Today, President Obama departed Charlotte and the Occupy campsite was peacefully disbanded. Yesterday, however, held a very active day of protest with more arrests, along with possible reports of police misconduct. You can read our earlier entry for a summary of arrests earlier in the Convention.

  • Six environmentalists were arrested for staging a sit-in at the intersection of Stonewall and Tryon Street in front of the Duke Energy Building. The six protesters sat on a banner, linked arms, and demanded an audience with Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers. After ten minutes, and repeated warnings, the police arrested and removed the protesters. Michael Stewart, Amelia Campbell, Audrey Jane, Christina Mounce, Matthew Goodsell, and Richard French were charged with impeding traffic. Read this Charlotte Observer article for more information on the incident.
  • Two other protesters were arrested and charged for “City/Town Violation (Misdemeanor)” shortly after the sit-in outside the Duke Energy building.
  • A third man, Kyle Pugh, was charged for disorderly conduct.

There are reports of possible 4th Amendment violations by police during Thursday’s events. The Civil Rights Clinic Blog will keep you updated regarding any civil suits that may be filed stemming from the DNC protests.

A large demonstration left Marshall Park around 7:30 PM last night. Despite high tension due to the arrests earlier in the day, and and astounding police presence, the protests was peaceful and no arrests were made. We’ll update you with more information on that event soon.

Notably, there have been absolutely no incidents of violence during the DNC protests and all arrests have been misdemeanors. As of this morning, all arrestees are reported to be out of custody.


North Carolina Arrest and Court Process

September 6, 2012

What happens if you’re arrested in North Carolina? The process can be very complicated. In order to promote understanding of the criminal justice system, particularly during the DNC, the National Lawyers Guild assembled a summary of the process. Check it out here, and hopefully you’ll never need it!


New Uptown Access Maps

September 6, 2012

Updated access maps have been released since President Obama’s speech was moved to the Time Warner Cable arena. Today’s map (Thursday) can be found here. A map for Friday has also been released. All roads should be open by 9:00 AM on Friday.


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