Updated:CHARLOTTE, N.C. —
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested six people as hundreds of protesters gathered in uptown in front of Bank of America headquarters to protest the bank's spending.
Channel 9 reporter Tori Wells was at the corner of Fifth Street and North College Street all morning and said the protesters were shouting and chanting.
Extra officers were called to uptown to help control the protesters. The streets around the protest were shut down for several hours.
One group of protesters dragged a giant ball that says "DEBT" on it down the street. Those protesters stopped in the middle of the intersection outside the bank's shareholders meeting.
“The people have to rise up and do something. We have to push President Obama. We have to push Eric Holder. We have to get these people indicted for the criminals that they are,” said protester Anne Craig from Asheville.
Johnny Rosa of Framingham, Mass., was one of those arrested. Rosa said before he was taken into custody that his home had been foreclosed and he wanted to tell shareholders the foreclosure was wrong because he wanted to make payments.
Charlotte police planned to use a new ordinance allowing the city to declare public gatherings as extraordinary events. Authorities can then designate areas where people won't be allowed to carry backpacks, magic markers and other items.
The measures were adopted in advance of the Democratic National Convention. CMPD said the protest was a good dress rehearsal for the upcoming DNC.
The demonstrators took out a noise ordinance prior to the protest.
A large portion of the protesters moved to Bank of America stadium around 11 a.m. Around 12 p.m. the group was headed to Old City Hall, which was the site of the Occupy protest.
Channel 9 reporter Jim Bradley was inside the shareholder meeting that ended around 12:20 p.m. Bradley said about two dozen people spoke during the public comment portion and asked shareholders some very critical questions.
Bradley said they appeared to be protesters that got into the meeting. He said security personnel were in suits, not uniforms. They were seated amongst the shareholders to be able to react quickly to any problems.
The 99 Percent Coalition has protested at shareholder meetings across the country over the past month. The group is calling on Bank of America to get its money out of politics, pay more taxes and help struggling families.
A group also said it will deliver a petition calling on the bank to stop political donations.
"Americans are fed up with large corporations thinking they can buy our elections," said Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, founder and executive director of SumOfUs.org, the group running the petition. "Especially when you consider that Bank of America needed our dollars to stay afloat after helping crash the economy, we are especially angry that they would donate to super PACs that aim to elect people who will put Wall Street before Main Street."
You can view that signers of that petition here.
Bank of America’s stock dropped more than 2 percent on Tuesday. Shares lost 17 cents and closed at $7.79.
BofA began sending out notification letters to 200,000 homeowners in North Carolina and all over the United States earlier this week saying they are eligible for loan modifications. In the letter, the bank states the customer will see a significant reduction in principle and could reduce monthly payments by up to 35 percent.
The protest is getting a lot of attention on our Facebook page. Frank Easton writes, "Wish I could be there but I'm at work. So thankful we have people like this fighting corporate greed."
Nancy Threatte wrote, "I think every one who has a job should stay home one day then maybe we would get the respect we deserve."
Head over to our Facebook page and leave and comment on this story. Also, Tweet us a photo if you are in uptown to @WSOC_TV.
At the last Democratic National Convention in Denver, about 10,000 protesters showed up, and police made more than 150 arrests.
For some employees, Wednesday's activities were a sign of things to come.
Eric Williams works as an accountant for The Shaw Group. He said dozens of other accountants have been told they can work from home during the convention.
"Most of the companies around here are telling their folks to work from home that week just to avoid the chaos; to avoid whatever may come," he said.
Many companies in uptown Charlotte have come to that same decision, saying it's better for business -- and safer for employees -- simply to close up shop for a few days.
There was no property damage and no violence from Wednesday's protests. Six people were arrested for trespessing.
It was a valuable learning experience for Bonnie Jeffers, who works as an eyecare technician near Trade and College streets.
"I'm probably going to have to leave my house an hour and a half early, and I live 15 minutes down the road," she said.
And to avoid the hassle of finding a parking spot, Jeffers said she'll ride the bus to work.
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