Four protesters were arrested Wednesday as they tried to force their way into the annual Bank of America shareholders’ meeting in Charlotte, and police used a new ordinance to declare the gathering an "extraordinary event" subject to special restrictions.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Major Jeff Estes said four men were charged with crossing a police line, a misdemeanor.
The incident is the result of a nationwide protest organized by a group that calls itself "99 Percent Power," according to Reuters.
“From May 6 to 9, people from across the country and world will be converging on Charlotte, North Carolina, home of Bank of America, which will be staging its annual shareholder meeting, to demand an end to practices that are bankrupting our economy and wrecking our climate,” Brigid Flaherty writes for Occupy.com.
“Homeowners, students, immigrants, environmentalists, workers, women’s groups and peace activists will be standing up for justice Wednesday in the Wall Street of the South, bringing their stories, hearts and communities to the fight against Bank of America for its criminal role in home foreclosures, job loss and unemployment, corporate control of democracy and the financing of environmental degradation,” she adds.
And although the call to arms didn't result in a 1,000+ person rally (as organizers predicted), an estimated 500 to 750 protesters showed up. Hundreds of protesters gathered on the streets as dozens of police officers worked to contain the crowd.
Johnny Rosa of Framingham, Mass., was one of those arrested. Before being taken into custody, Rosa said his home had been foreclosed. He wanted to tell shareholders the foreclosure was wrong because he wanted to make payments.
"The scene turned tense during the arrests as some members of the crowd briefly chanted 'murderers, cops, pigs,'" writes the Charlotte Observer's Andrew Dunn, Cleve R. Wootson and Ely Portillo. "They also chanted "no justice, no peace."
As mentioned in the above, Charlotte police used a new ordinance allowing the city to declare public gatherings as extraordinary events. That allowed authorities to designate areas where people aren't allowed to carry backpacks, magic markers and other items.
The measures were adopted in advance of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. However, protesters came prepared for the new police regulation:
...the city's declaration that the BoA protest on May 9 is an "extraordinary event" by no means takes us off course. On the contrary, the state's opposition to our constitutional right to peaceful assembly, and its collusion with the banks toward that end, makes our resolve all the stronger. We will be here, in Charlotte, in massive numbers, unflinching in our demand for economic, racial and environmental justice. Following in the legacy of our movement sisters and brothers who have come before us, we shall not be moved.
Major Estes says police didn’t confiscate any of those materials at the demonstration.
"There's been no property damage, and nobody was injured," Estes said, according to the Charlotte Observer. "We're pleased with the outcome."
Front page photo source: Melissa Melvin-Rodrigue/Charlotte Observer
The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story has been updated.