Hundreds of protestors marching in uptown Charlotte ahead of the Democratic National Convention said they were disillusioned by President Obama’s leadership and called for reforms in areas of social, economic and foreign policy.
Between 800 and 1,000 immigration activists, Veterans for Peace, socialists, anarchists and gay rights activists protested policies implemented under both Republican and Democratic Party leadership that they claimed limit human rights. Protestors chanted inflammatory slogans including “Their pockets get bigger, our children get sicker” and “Without this basic right women can’t be free, abortion on demand and without apology.”
Niel Ahuja said he supported President Obama during the 2008 election but has been disappointed by the Obama administration continuing security policies pursued by President George W. Bush. Mike Harrington, a Vietnam War veteran with Veterans for Peace who marched to cut the military budget, said he saw no difference in the foreign policies of President Obama and President Bush.
“Bring our troops home and let’s stop agitating in other countries and trying to take their resources,” Harrington said.
Sandy Fessler from Rochester, New York marched with a replica of a reaper drone to demonstrate against American strikes against nations in the Middle East. She accused the administration of killing civilians and causing the radicalization of victims’ family members.
“I do not call them terrorists,” she said.
Fessler said she will not vote in November because of the “corrupt system” of government propagated under both parties.
Centering their demonstration around Charlotte based Bank of America, protestors also called for economic reforms to rein in banks and big business profits. However, Tom Burwell of Greensborough, North Carolina advocated a complete overhaul of the economic system.
“A way forward for society is a new economic system: socialism,” Burwell said.
As a representative of “Moratorium Now Coalition,” Mike Shane marched for a less radical cause that seeks to convince President Obama to use his executive power to issue a moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions.
Immigration issues took center stage at the demonstration with protestors chanting slogans and giving speeches in English and Spanish. Some protestors from Phoenix, Arizona were illegal immigrants who wore t-shirts that read “Undocumented, unafraid.”
Whitney Rainey was demonstrating with the organization “No papers, no fear” in solidarity with undocumented immigrants confronting limits on their civil rights and deportation.
“I would tell President Obama that we need to look into serious immigration reform because currently we are breaking up families and people are living in fear in their daily lives,” she said.
Police arrested two people including a woman wearing a mask who was found to be carrying a knife and a man who was intoxicated and accused of assault on a government official.
The number of protestors in Charlotte was greater than the few hundred who demonstrated in Tampa, Florida last week during the Republican National Convention. The demonstration was largely peaceful and mitigated by hundreds of law enforcement officials lining the streets.