Charlotte may ban Occupy camping

Jan. 4, 2012 at 2:07 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Occupy protesters in Charlotte, N.C., would be barred from camping on city property under proposed ordinances, as they have for several months, officials say.

The proposed ordinances, part of the city's preparations to host the Democratic National Convention, also would forbid protesters to have items including box cutters, pepper spray, body armor and gas masks, The Charlotte Observer reported.

The City Council has scheduled a public hearing on the ordinances Monday and is scheduled to vote on them Jan. 23.

Police would have the option to remove protesters who violate the ban, City Attorney Bob Hagemann said.

"It will be up to law enforcement discretion," Hagemann said.

Hagemann told council members he doesn't believe the ordinances would violate the First Amendment but expects the city to be sued, as other cities have been.

Occupy Charlotte protesters relied on a loophole to circumvent ordinances banning camping in city parks but not in "public forums," such as the old City Hall, the Observer said.

Don Faix of Occupy Charlotte said he will ask the City Council to let the group stay longer.

"We hope there can be a win-win," Faix said.

The Observer said the city likely will have a designated protest area for the DNC and has said it will accept applications for protest permits in the spring and could award them by lottery.

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