Protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement encamped in a Charlotte park near the site of the Democratic National Convention say they received warmer reception from residents of Tampa, Florida, where Republicans held their convention last week.
There is an uneasy co-existence between the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and protesters who are living in 30 pup tents erected in Marshall Park, protesters say. The six-acre park features a fountain and a pedestrian bridge over a duck pond.
Charlotte is “less welcoming because we are not in a community area,’” said a protester who identified himself only as Rich.
“I feel this town is a little more conservative,” said Rich, who describes himself as a veteran of the Occupy Wall Street encampments in New York.
In Tampa, “the communities we marched through were all for us,” he said.“We would walk down the street” and residents “would clap for us, people would honk” from their cars, he said. Not so much Charlotte, a city dominated by large office towers, including one that houses the Bank of America Corp.
An encampment of Occupy Wall Street protesters was ejected eight months ago by authorities enforcing a local ordinance that bans camping in city parks.
So far police have not tried to remove the protesters from the encampments on either side of the duck pond.
Still, protesters say the police have made their presence felt, by marching or riding motorcycles past the park and flying helicopters overhead at night and shining spotlights on tents.
“They are constantly rolling parades of vehicles in here to intimidate protesters, it’s been ongoing,” said Cory V. Clark 33, who travelled to Charlotte from Philadelphia.
Many of the protesters came to Charlotte because “we don’t like the two-party system,” Clark said. “We don’t like the oppression that has come under Bush and Obama and would continue” no matter who wins the presidential election in November.