Photos and audio from first Occupy Charlotte gathering
Posted on 4 Oct 2011 by Grant Baldwin
Four to five days ago Thomas Shope, a local buisness owner, thought there should be an Occupy Charlotte movement.
He created a Facebook page, and an event inviting people meet in Marshal Park to discuss creating a formal committee that would become an extension of, and work together with, Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Together movement.
To his surprise, the page quickly received over 1200 likes. And at 3 pm on Saturday, October 1st, there were 85–115 people at Marshal Park.
To address the crowd he told those standing near him to repeat after him in unison, word for word. Very quickly people caught on, and within moments all present were echoing him in 3–4 words chucks.
He asked for a show of hands to determine if everyone agreed they should form a committee. The vote was yes. He proposed a committee of either seven, nine, or eleven members. By show of hands the vote was for nine. He asked those that wished to be on the committee to put their names on into a hat from which a volunteer from the crowd drew at random.
Seven names were drawn and read aloud. All names picked were men. A female voice called out ‘there’s no women!’ It was proposed to construct the committee from 11 members rather than 9 and to continue to draw until two females were picked. The vote by show of hands was yes and the final two members were drawn from the hat.
Mr. Shope asked those that were drawn to join him to the side where he presented a document he suggested serve as a pattern for how the committee function and the entirety of the document was read aloud amongst the newly formed committee. The document read was “Quick Guide On Group Dynamics And Peoples Assemblies: A Text Prepared By The Commission For Group Dynamics And Assemblies Of The Puerto Del Sol Protest Camp, Madrid”. It was created by assemblies within the “15 May Movement” (or 15-M Movement), an ongoing protest in Spain.
Tom then stepped away. When asked if he was going to serve as leadership within Occupy Charlotte. He said no, though he could possibly get voted into the next committee rotation (tentatively scheduled to occur every two weeks), though he had no direct intent to lead. He simply thought someone needed to get the ball rolling, so he might as well do it.
The committee then decided, through some polling of the crowd, to march. By this point in the afternoon the crowd had grown to 150–200 people. They marched from Marshall Park to City Hall, to the Bank Of America Corporate Center, chanting emphatically. After some time in front of Bank Of America they marched back to Marshall Park stopping briefly in front of Time Warner Arena. Upon arriving at Marshall Park again the crowd dispersed.
It’s of note that a liaison from CMPD, Sgt. J. Thomas, came and spoke with Tom Shope (who had arranged for the proper permits ahead of time) and a group of 8–12 people who had arrived quite early to the event. He expressed warmly that CMPD had no intent of meeting peaceful public assemblies with aggression or opposition. Their position was that it is important for Charlotte to be a place that allows such free speech and freedom of expression and that they intend to work with organizations to allow public assembly within the parameters of the laws and ordinances governing Charlotte.