On my way to Florida for the winter, on a beautiful, sunny November 18th, 2011, I drove into downtown Charlotte, North Carolina to look for Occupy Charlotte.
I knew this city would have reason to feel significant in the Occupy movement, because they are the second-largest banking center in the US, after Wall Street in New York. Bank of America is headquartered there. Also, they are going to be the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
I was impressed with the enthusiasm I saw at all three places I stopped. The first was the street-side "information center" across from police headquarters. Then, there is the camp adjacent to there, taking up much of the grounds on three sides of Old City Hall, just a few blocks south of the skyscraper cluster where the banks are headquartered. Finally, I participated in a Friday afternoon rush-hour protest at that skyscraper cluster, in front of the Bank of America World Headquarters.
I heard a familiar frustration -that the Occupiers wished there were a lot more of them. Just as in Dayton, I expressed my opinion that the statistics fairly-well match the participation rate that would be expected by those who have studied activism and protest movements.
The high point of my afternoon had to be when I walked from the Occupy site north to the heart of downtown Charlotte, to in front of the Bank of America headquarters. There I was greeted by several protesters with some nice durable signs, one of which I borrowed. They also taught me some new chants. I learned that their un-flattering nickname for the tower is "the Shaft of Charlotte".
One of the protesters, Tate, said he was fresh out of jail for an act of civil disobedience involving a banner a few days ago. He is a passionate environmentalist like me.
They invited me to participate in what has to be my funniest little demonstration on the street yet -a line dance of the Hokey-Pokey as we straddled the sidewalk crack the bank guard was enforcing as the demarcation of trespassing from public to private property. Of course, we made sure our kicks but not our steps went over the line.
I will never forget this day, in a very unique and somewhat amazing city I always liked. Now I really appreciate the place, and the people of Charlotte.
Here are my pictures:
album -My Occupy Charlotte Visit