Anger over proposed changes to city ordinances ahead of DNC

Published: Jan. 10, 2012 at 3:53 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2012 at 4:06 AM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -- Police removed two people at Monday night's city council meeting after tensions boiled over.

Protesters and citizens alike were fired up over proposed changes to city ordinance ahead of the Democratic National Convention in September.

One man was escorted from the building by two officers and later arrested when he refused to leave the podium after his three minutes allotted to speak was up.

"What is this about free speech zones," asked one resident. "I thought our whole country was a free speech zone."

"Why can't we come up with a temporary ordinance to only deal with the problem at hand," wondered another. "The folks that are coming to Charlotte. Leave us alone."

The changes would make it illegal to camp on city property, something that didn't sit well with Occupy Charlotte protesters including Scottie Wingfield.

She came to the podium with yellow caution tape around her mouth symbolizing a gag.

"I say that city property is the people's property," she said. "And the people's property is public space."

Wingfield was later removed from the meeting and banned form the building after repeated outbursts.

But it's not just occupy protesters upset.

"I'm homeless," one man told council members. "anywhere I fall asleep in the city I'm gonna be considered camping."

The ordinance changes would also require a temporary permit to have a parade.

It would also make it illegal to carry certain items like bars, chains, padlocks and lumber among other things.

Considering police would be given wide latitude when it comes to enforcing the changes, others expressed concern that many would be penalized for the actions of a few.

"I ride a bike, I carry my keys on a carabiner and I intend to protest at the DNC," said another Charlotte resident. "And under this ordinance all of those things could be illegal."

City council is slated to vote on the proposed changes on January 23.

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