Uptown Charlotte on Tuesday continues to seem like a foreign place to us natives, with all the barricades, police, demonstrators and politicos.
The free speech zone that opened Tuesday seemed to be a complete bust, at least through midday. In early afternoon, there was a single speaker, a street preacher, who had an audience of precisely zero.
This may relate to earlier comments from protesters that “the whole country is a free speech zone.” The list of reserved times for speeches was not even filled. Those seeking media coverage want confrontation instead of a dispassionate discourse, as shown by an event later in the day.
The news from Tuesday afternoon was about a group of protesters who had been camping in Marshall Park since last weekend, in violation of a local ordinance that is not being enforced. They had a two-hour standoff with police near the arena. The candor in one of their quotes is not surprising: “We just want to go where the news cameras are.”
When Rudy Giuliani was mayor, New York City was transformed from the American murder capital to one of our safest big cities. He attributed this to paying attention to the small transgressions, by no longer tolerating aggressive panhandling and by fixing broken windows.
The decision was made early on in Charlotte not to enforce the recently enacted ordinance prohibiting camping on public property. There have been reports of some protesters being allowed to cover their faces, which is a violation of North Carolina criminal law. Show a tolerance for ignoring the rule of law, and law-breakers predictably will test the limits with more serious crimes, as we witnessed on Tuesday afternoon with the Marshall Park scofflaws.
Meanwhile, the Obama campaign handed out free Obama Head trailer hitch covers Tuesday. It must have been the campaign, because they were free. Has anyone, anywhere, seen a pickup truck with an Obama bumper sticker, ever? To deepen the irony, each head has a label attached – “Made in China.” This, from he who claims to promote domestic manufacturing.
Phil Van Hoy is a Charlotte native who has been active in various Republican positions and campaigns.