Protesters set to descend on the Duke Energy shareholders meeting

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Hundreds are expected to descend on the streets of Uptown Charlotte to protest the Duke Energy shareholders meeting Thursday.

The streets of the Center City were quiet just before dawn. The only action coming from a production company shooting an episode for an upcoming HBO series.

But in just a couple of hours, all of that is going to change.

Hundreds of protesters are scheduled to descend on the Queen City, and they have Duke Energy squarely in their sites.

Groups like Occupy Charlotte, Greenpeace, and the Rainforest Action Network will be holding demonstrations on a wide variety of topics including climate change to support of coal fired plants to economic equality.

What makes this different isn't because of the protesters, it's because of the police.

This will be the first time they get to use new powers granted to them under the "extraordinary event" clause.

Passed by the City Council, it gives officers broader leeway in enforcing laws including clamping down on outdoor camping, and checking backpacks. This is all to get ready to handle the crowds of people coming in for the DNC.

Protesters are calling this move "Draconian".

They say it tramples all over their right of free speech. They promise non-violent, but direct action.

Earlier this week, several people from the Rainforest Action Network erected a banner on Bank Of America Stadium in protest for the bank funding coal plants.

The sign was quickly pulled down, and several people arrested by police.

It's not known right now how many people will show up, but Charlotte officers have been doing heavy patrols around the Duke Energy building even before the sun came up.

The protests are scheduled to begin at 11:00am.

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