City issues permit to DNC protesters after 8 months of applying - | WBTV Charlotte

City issues permit to DNC protesters after 8 months of applying

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Leaders in Charlotte finally issued a permit to protesters for the Democratic National Convention, eight months after the group applied to demonstrate.

WBTV talked to the Coalition to March on Wall Street South on Tuesday morning, after the group says it had not gotten a response from the city - even though it had applied 24 times in an eight-month period.

Some estimates predict 10,000 protestors or more are expected to converge in Charlotte for the DNC in September.

"I know that it's not exactly the easiest thing for them to be having to deal with large demonstrations and marches when they're also having to plan a convention," says Matt Hixon, of the Coalition to March on Wall Street. "But it is a Constitutional right, and it's something that's important – for citizens to have a voice at a major political event."

Hixon was frustrated on Tuesday morning, saying Charlotte was stalling when it comes to providing permits for protests. 

"We've been in touch with them starting about eight months ago - over 24 times - and we've had permits returned and requests just completely ignored," Hixon says.

WBTV spoke with city officials on Tuesday who say that the timing is not entirely in their hands. Officials say they have to rely on Secret Service to feed them important information about security parameters.

"Enough time has passed," Occupy Charlotte member Scottie Wingfield says. "They really need to let us know what they're going to be permitting people to do during the DNC, and we believe we have the right to be within sight and sound of the delegates."

The city says people will be allowed to protest on any sidewalk without a permit as long as that sidewalk isn't closed.  But there will likely be a lot of closings near convention hot spots. 

City officials have said they'll hold a lottery in early June for permits to march in designated routes. 

"We're very much opposed to the lottery,"  Wingfield says. "We feel that everyone should have a right to exercise free speech, not just lottery winners."

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