Occupying Raleigh, for at least a few hours
The grassroots Occupy Wall Street movement will be front and center in North Carolina’s capital city tomorrow, but only have a four-hour slot allotted to them for the protest.
It’s unclear if the leaderless movement, loosely organized around the growing frustrations of government putting corporate interests ahead of everyday citizens, will stick to that plan.
The Twitter user “OccupyRaleigh,” which has been the main account for the group here, sent out posts this morning saying that protesters will be trying to extend that time, and attempt to set up a camp in downtown Raleigh.
“We will be occupying indefinitely starting this Saturday! indefinitely! If you’d like to occupy over night please bring sleeping bag/warm blanket, roll and food for Sat night. Reg meals start Sun morning :),” read OccupyRaleigh’s 7 a.m. Twitter post.
At least 800 people have indicated they’ll be coming to tomorrow’s protest, via the group’s Facebook page. Legal observers who aren’t directly participating are planning to come to tomorrow’s event as well, to make sure no one’s First Amendment rights are trampled.
But a permit to occupy the N.C. Capitol grounds in Raleigh was limited to just a few hours, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., by the N.C. Department of Administration.
If people try to stay longer, law enforcement will have to make a decision about how to handle the situation, said Jill Lucas, the administration department’s spokeswoman, which issued the permit to use the public grounds. Raleigh police will likely be assisting the State Capitol Police, the police force used to patrol state property in Raleigh, at Saturday’s event.
The citizen-led group had hoped to get a permit for a temporary encampment to run through Nov. 5, but that was turned down by state officials.
This year’s state budget cuts – which included cutting the State Capitol Police force to half its previous size – makes it impossible for the state to allow for three-week campground to pop up on the historic state Capitol in downtown Raleigh, Lucas said.
But Lucas emphasized that the state has only had pleasant dealings with the Occupiers, and don’t expect any problems.
“They’ve been very polite,” Lucas said. “We have no reason to think they’ll do anything but adhere to the procedures they signed off on.”
The leaderless Occupy movement expanded from its beginnings in Occupy Wall Street and has attracted a wide range of followers gathered under the general theme of wanting less corporate influence and privilege in American society. Other North Carolina cities with Occupy movements include Asheville, Durham and Charlotte.
In Charlotte, protesters have been able to camp out and plan on having a march tomorrow at 3 p.m. at the city’s old City Hall. Several hundred people came out for a protest and march on the Bank of America headquarters last week. The group is using the Twitter hashtag #occupyclt to organize.
Click here to see a copy of Occupy Raleigh’s application, and the state’s turn down letter for the campground. (The redactions were by N.C. Policy Watch, we figured that Stacie Borrello, one of the Occupy Raleigh organizers, wouldn’t want her phone number and address floating all over the Internet.)
Want to find out more?
Tell us what you think. Are you coming? Why or why not? Should protesters be allowed to camp out, as they have in other cities?