CHARLOTTE — City officials granted protest and speakers platform permits on Monday to 41 groups seeking to use exclusive protest parade and speaking venues during the Democratic National Convention in September.
Among the groups chosen was the Raleigh-based N.C. Values Coalition, the lead organizers in charge of putting North Carolina’s anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment on the ballot on May 8. The amendment passed 61-39 percent.
Anti-gay lobbyist Tami Fitzgerald was listed as the group’s main contact on their application to the city. The group was assigned a 5 p.m. speakers’ podium time slot on Thursday, Sept. 6.
City officials have not yet announced where the speakers’ platform will be placed, though the protest route has been set between Pearl Street Park and Marshall Park.
The city used a lottery system to decide which groups would receive permits. All 41 groups which applied were granted permits. Time slots on the parade route and speakers’ platform are still available. Organizations can apply for open time slots by submitting their applications between July 5 and Aug. 24. Protest permits will be issued until all time slots are filled. Applications are available at dncinfo.charlottenc.gov.
Some groups have derided the protest lottery system.
Michael Zytkow, 25, of Occupy Charlotte, said the lottery event was like a drawing for an iPod.
“We entered to just show what a joke this system is,” Zytkow said.
City permitting official Emily Cantrell disagreed.
“It’s certainly not a sham, it’s our offering for these groups to have exclusive use for free-speech activities,” she said. “I think there’s a misunderstanding that this is the only opportunity for people to express their freedom of speech during the convention, and that’s not true at all.”
City sidewalks and plazas that are not otherwise restricted for security or transportation concerns are available to protesters, Cantrell said.
– Lindsay Ruebens of The Charlotte Observer contributed. Read her report at charlotteobserver.com. qnotes is a member of The Observer‘s Charlotte News Alliance.