Police call Bank of America protest peaceful, good practice for DNC
Updated: Updated 05/09/2012 05:20 PM
By: Shawn Flynn and Becky Bereiter
CHARLOTTE – Hundreds of protesters marched through uptown Charlotte Wednesday during Bank of America's shareholders meeting. Although six people were arrested, police say it was generally peaceful and was a good test with the Democratic National Convention just months away.
Protesters representing grassroots groups from across the country converged at the bank's headquarters chanting, "Bank of America, Bad for America," later shutting down the intersection of College and 5th streets with banners, signs and drum circles.
"I'm representing the workers who were foreclosed on by Bank of America and we are here to say enough is enough," said protester Barbara Young.
"They're leading the charge on foreclosing on our homes. They're a leading funder in the coal industry and we're just standing up to say no," Michael Zytkow, a protester, said.
The event drew dozens of police officers to the area, making sure the protestors and the rest of the public were safe. Six demonstrators, including Johnny Rosa from Massachusetts, were arrested for trying to make their way inside the meeting.
Rosa says Bank of America foreclosed on his home in 2010.
"The arrests are not fair. Johnny lost his home, he wanted to get in and talk to the shareholders, he had something to say and they didn't want to listen," said Keenen Altic, another who was arrested.
With a crowd 500 strong, the city of Charlotte declared the shareholders meeting and protest an extraordinary event, authorizing more power for police. Officers say they used a “bend, don't break” type of control over the protestors.
“Those folks are not our enemies,” said CMPD Deputy Chief Harold Medlock. “We had what we believe was a very successful, very peaceful and safe day.”
That included an actual police escort during a march from One Bank of America Center to Bank of America Stadium.
“Our movements were very orchestrated today. We were flexible with our plan that we were able to adapt as different conditions presented themselves,” Medlock said.
The protesters said this demonstration is just a small sample of what's to come.
“We have big plans for the DNC. We want folks to know Charlotte is the Wall Street of the South,” Zytkow said.
CMPD used this protest as practice for September's convention, where the number of protesters is expected to swell. Police hope protests go as well then as they did Wednesday.
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Check out how the whole protest happened on Storify: