Protesters denied permission for extended-stay at State Capitol

Staff writerOctober 21, 2011 

— Protesters with Occupy Raleigh asked the state for permission to occupy the State Capitol grounds for most of the rest of October, but state officials turned them down, saying a prolonged occupation would be expensive and unfair to others who might want to use the grounds.

Organizers of the Occupy Raleigh demonstration were granted permission to demonstrate on the grounds on Oct. 15, but only for four hours. Hundreds of people showed up, and most left by night fall. But 19 protesters were arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespassing when they refused to leave the Capitol grounds after the permit expired.

Since then, a handful of protesters have remained on the sidewalk in front of the State Capitol.

Thursday, organizers asked for permission to demonstrate on the State Capitol grounds from 8 a.m. Saturday through Sunday, Oct. 30. They also wanted to erect a 10-foot-by-10-foot canopy on the public grounds. The N.C. Department of Administration denied the request today.

About 30 Triangle activists, educators and clergy members expressed support for Occupy Raleigh's request. They include James Andrews, president of the state AFL-CIO, Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, and Harry Payne, senior counsel with the N.C. Justice Center.

In a letter to William Creech, general counsel for the Department of Administration, Occupy Raleigh decries what it considers the state's failure to recognize the scope of the "economic and political problems" the group is determined to highlight.

The letter notes earlier protest encampments in the nation's history, including the Bonus Marchers of 1932, who came to Washington, D.C., seeking veteran's benefits, and the Poor People's Campaign of 1968, also in Washington.

The group also pointed to the Occupy demonstrations taking place across the nation and worldwide. In the Triangle, a small group of protesters gathered at the CCB Plaza in downtown Durham without a permit, and city officials told them they could stay as long as they wanted. Chapel Hill authorities responded in similar fashion when protesters gathered on the grounds of the Post Office on Franklin Street.

"Instead of asking whether the Occupy Raleigh permit conforms to narrow precedents, Department officials should ask what harm is done by granting this amended permit," Occupy Raleigh organizers stated in the letter.

McDonald: 919.829.4533

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