Apparently, the city of Charlotte has forgotten about it’s last experience with Occupy, the one that ended with a police eviction and required a haz-mat crew to clean up a storm drain the Occupiers had been “using as a toilet.” What has been under-reported is how the previous Occupy Charlotte managed to establish and maintain its camp despite city ordinances. The short answer: they got special treatment.
[CMPD Capt. Jeff] Estes said Charlotte ordinances prohibit “semi-permanent structures,” but that the city did not include tents in that category because tents can be easily taken down. The city also does not put a time limit on protesting in public forum spaces such as city hall.
That’s right. Because Charlotte was originally sympathetic to the Occupiers, they decided tents wouldn’t count as “semi-permanent structures” which were already banned on public property unless you obtained specific permits. The occupiers eventually wore out their welcome, but they couldn’t be removed because of the city’s earlier decision. That’s what led to the new “no camping” rule which is, surprise surprise, not being enforced.
Charlotte officials deny they’ve granted permission for the Occupiers to camp in Marshall park, or any other park:
But it’s more likely Charlotte officials want to have their cake and eat it too. Not granting permission is not the same as enforcing the law. And both the Charlotte Observer and Occupiers themselves suggest they’ve had private assurances they won’t be bothered:
If Charlotte were actually going to enforce its rules, rules that were supposedly put in place because of Occupy, then they would have done so already and evicted the campers tonight. The campers haven’t been evicted which means once again, the rules are being broken for one group because the City’s leaders agree with Occupy’s politics. At what point does this become a violation of the Equal Protection clause?
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