Cover Story: Protesting profile

By Jeff Atkinson - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - President Obama visits Charlotte on Friday.  As the City prepares for the cost and protocol, meantime protestors say they plan to make it worth every penny.

The president is coming here Friday to talk economic recovery.

He's going to tour the Celgard plant.

It makes parts for lithium batteries used in electric cars.

It's cornering a business historically big in Japan and maybe more importantly, it's leading the movement to turn Charlotte into a green energy hub.

We talked to Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx about the implications of the Obama's visit.

He said, "I'm excited about the president's trip here because what he's highlighting at one time, by going to this one company, is the diverse economy we have. The intentional efforts we've made to diversify our economy already, to strengthen it. To grow the jobs of the future."

In January, Celgard announced it will add 300 jobs and build a new plant in Concord.

For Charlotte, preparing for the visit means extra security, traffic and crowd control resources.

While Charlotte makes its final preparations for Obama's visit protests against Obama's policies are sweeping the nation.

And Friday, the Queen City could be ground zero for public demonstrations of protest and demonstrations of support for Obama and actions.

The last time a president came to Charlotte was four years ago this month.  That was George W. Bush.

And for the two hours he was here he ran into a surprise protester that generated quite a stir that made news worldwide.

Protests people carrying out  The country's at war.  The public is divided.  And some people think the president isn't listening to the people.

Could be today's headline.

But the same was said four years ago.

Charlotte, April 2006.  At CPCC, President George W. Bush here on a two hour stop got a surprise from the audience.

"I've never been so embarrassed."  Harry Taylor, real estate broker, then 61 told Bush off in front of a worldwide audience.

He said, "They had never allowed anybody to do what I ended up doing that day."

His comments some believed marked the beginning of the end of the Bush presidency.

One columnist called it "The Harry Taylor Moment. Bush's favored role of "anti-terrorist in chief" is wearing thin on an increasingly skeptical public."

"I was really angry with Bush."  Taylor's comments while polite, some believe ushered in a new era of political discourse which some think is helping fuel today's political outbursts, which Taylor doesn't agree with.

"I don't think screaming, yelling and throwing things.. nasty signs and posters that say we're not bringing our guns this time.. kinda stuff doesn't get you anywhere. It pushes you way out on the margin."

Taylor's 15-minutes of fame led to run for Congress in 2008.  He challenged popular incumbent Republican Sue Myrick in a district that leans heavily to the GOP.  He lost badly.

Taylor was unaffiliated with any party until he ran for Congress as a Democrat.  He says he has issues with the country's current Democratic president as well.  Although admits he's not as angry at Obama as he was at Bush.

Friday, while protesters will gather on the streets where President Obama's motorcade will pass the city braces for what could be a lively debate.

Would the man who stood up in a life-defining moment have any advice?

Says Taylor, "This world and community everywhere doesn't work by punching somebody in the nose. It works when you engage somebody to consider a thought that they hadn't considered before. It works when you touch something inside them that they didn't know was there."

That's what he said he was trying to do that day with George Bush.

This will be Barack Obama's first visit to Charlotte as president.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department says it'll cost the department about $70,000 to monitor the event.

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