Occupy Charlotte losing steam

Published: Oct. 10, 2011 at 10:25 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 12, 2011 at 12:24 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - On Sunday, Occupy Charlotte protestors clearly expected to carry their momentum into Monday.

Organizers said they were making plans to march on City Council then and at Duke Energy on Tuesday.

But when we showed up at the group's campsite Monday afternoon to check on their progress, protestors were quiet. They declined to comment on their status or plans. They stood in small groups without signage.

We were told a couple of Occupy members had left to join postal workers at Representative Sue Myrick's office in Southpark. Tim Rorie, president of the local chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers had compiled a press release this morning, claiming Columbus Day the start of a nationwide week of action to urge Myrick and other Congress members to pass the American Jobs Act.

But only a handful of people showed up.

"I'm disappointed," Rorie said.

Monday evening, we showed up at a 7pm meeting of Occupy Charlotte supporters at their uptown camp site. That's when the group went temporarily silent.

One group member proposed a vote, and the group of about 50 appeared to unanimously agree not to say another word for the time being.

When we asked what was going on, one member said the local media had been misconstruing the group's message, so they decided to stop talking to reporters.

The group sat in silence for about 15 minutes until reporters walked farther away. Then the meeting appeared to continue.  About an hour later, after wbtv.com requested an interview, the group held another vote and sent someone over to act as a spokesman.

"Seems they're a little disappointed with some things that happened out here between some of the media outlets and stuff," said Occupy Charlotte supporter Thomas Shope. "Seems like some people tromped through some of their property and were a little bit forceful in the questions they asked."

When reminded that the Occupy Charlotte movement was taking place on public property, Shope said the protestors still deserved to get some sleep.

Around 11 pm, one chunk of the group left to go home for the night, while a few dozen remained and started heading towards their tents.

Shope said they plan to occupy Charlotte for at least a year, despite the fact that the crowd Monday was significantly smaller than it was over the weekend.

While protests may be dwindling in Charlotte, perhaps individual efforts to effect change are just getting started.

Jim Van Fleet is also tired of waiting for the government or big business to fix the economy, but his Charlotte Startup Weekend (planned for Nov. 4-6) is very different than Occupy Charlotte. He doesn't want to picket, he wants to brainstorm.

"Attendees will have the option of pitching an idea to the group," Van Fleet said.

The best ideas will become blueprints for businesses and Van Fleet will get those ideas in front of entrepreneurs and investors interested in helping them come to fruition.

"One of the things that I have a lot of faith in is the power of connecting people," he said.

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