For immediate release: May 2, 2012
11am at Duke Energy Building
526 S. Church St, Charlotte NC
Contact: Roxana Bendezu, firstname.lastname@example.org, 704-264-4444 or Monica Embrey, email@example.com, 773-419-0963
Duke Energy, Bank of America and Charlotte use “extraordinary event” order to suppress upcoming shareholder protests
Denouncing anti-protest ordinance, local and national groups gear up for a show down in Charlotte
(Charlotte, NC) The NC Coalition Against Corporate Power, Greenpeace, and Rainforest Action Network who are planning massive protests at the Duke Energy shareholder’s meeting on May 3rd and Bank of America’s shareholders’ meeting on May 9th, said that the City of Charlotte’s designation of the meeting as an “extraordinary event” would not deter or intimidate people from attending the events.
The upcoming shareholders meeting will see peaceful protests and nonviolent direct actions aimed at holding the corporations accountable for their profiteering from the economic and climate crisis — despite efforts by the city of Charlotte to shut down the demonstrations with its “no free speech zones.” A new city ordinance lists a series of items that are grounds for arrest at an extraordinary event, some of which are absurd, such as permanent markers. In addition, the extraordinary event designation gives police broad powers to search backpacks, coolers, and briefcases of people going about their business on the street. ”
“Invoking this draconian law is another example of our democracy being sold to the highest bidder. The City of Charlotte is protecting Bank of America’s bottom line. The Constitution and everyday people be damned,” said Julie Morgan, a local leader with Action NC.
The demands for each of the shareholder meetings are simple. Masses of people are coming to Duke and BOA to demand these corporations cease their role in funding dirty coal energy projects in the U.S. and prioritize funding renewable energy projects, keep people in their homes, pay their fair share of taxes and keep corporate money out of the 2012 and future elections. The right to assemble and express these views is protected by the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions.
“In lobbying to deny North Carolinians their Constitutional right to freedom of speech and assembly, Duke Energy has set a dark precedent for corporate greed and suppression of civil liberties. With enormous power and money comes a responsibility to ensure the highest level of commitment to protecting the health and well-being of its customers, while also maintaining our fundamental rights. Duke is being protested because they are polluting not only our environment and public health — but now our democracy,” said Monica Embrey, Greenpeace Field Organizer.
An open letter from the Civil Rights Clinic at Charlotte School of Law to the City of Charlotte on January 20, 2012, when the extraordinary event ordinance was under consideration, stated:
Picketing and protesting … are rigorously protected First Amendment rights, and courts examine any restrictions on them with the most stringent level of scrutiny. Any restrictions are only valid provided “they are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information.” Courts are suspicious of overbroad or vague laws, created under the guise of public safety concerns, which actually target a group of political dissidents.
The announcement of the designation of the Duke and BOA shareholders’ meetings as extraordinary events has created more interest in traveling to Charlotte. Rather than intimidating or scaring people, people are committed to attending as a way to show their unflinching desire for economic, racial and environmental justice.
Visuals include banners, magic markers, and backpacks.