Bank of America and Charlotte use “extraordinary event” order to suppress May 9 shareholder protest
Magic markers declared illegal; briefcases and private papers subject to search
(Charlotte, NC) The 99% Power Coalition, which is planning a massive protest at Bank of America’s shareholders’ meeting on May 9, said that the City of Charlotte’s designation of the meeting as an “extraordinary event” would not deter or intimidate people from attending the event.
A new city ordinance lists a series of items that are grounds for arrest at an extraordinary event, some of which are absurd, such as permanent markers. In addition, the extraordinary event designation gives police broad powers to search backpacks, coolers, and briefcases of people going about their business on the street.
“Invoking this draconian law is another example of our democracy being sold to the highest bidder. The City of Charlotte is protecting Bank of America’s bottom line. The Constitution and everyday people be damned,” said Julie Morgan, a local leader with Action NC.
The 99% Power Coalition is coming to BOA to demand the bank keep people in their homes, pay its fair share of taxes, cease its role as the largest funder of dirty coal energy projects in the U.S. and prioritize funding renewable energy projects, and keep corporate money out of the 2012 and future elections. The right to assemble and express these views is protected by the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions.
“The one thing they got right is that this event will be extraordinary — extraordinarily peaceful and powerful,” said Marcella Robinson, a local resident facing foreclosure and Executive Director of Mortgage Fraud North Carolina. “Bank of America does not need to be afraid of our magic markers or our stories.”
An open letter from the Civil Rights Clinic at Charlotte School of Law to the City of Charlotte on January 20, 2012, when the extraordinary event ordinance was under consideration, stated:
Picketing and protesting … are rigorously protected First Amendment rights, and courts examine any restrictions on them with the most stringent level of scrutiny. Any restrictions are only valid provided “they are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.” Courts are suspicious of overbroad or vague laws, created under the guise of public safety concerns, which actually target a group of political dissidents.
The announcement of the designation of the BOA shareholders’ meeting as an extraordinary event comes on the eve of May 1, a day when 99 percenters across the country are standing up for human rights and confronting abuses of corporate power. The announcement has created more interest in traveling to Charlotte for BOA’s meeting on May 9, rather than intimidating or scaring people.
99% Power is a broad coalition that includes workers and retirees, families fighting foreclosure and the unemployed, students, immigrants and environmentalists. For more information, please visit http://www.the99power.org/