Hundreds of people in uptown protest outside Duke Energy

by: Jenna Deery Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

There were about 200 people at Thursday’s demonstration outside of the Duke Energy shareholders meeting.  That’s only about half of what police expected, but as expected the crowd was orderly.
 
They marched and chanted and speakers rallied the crowd.  The galvanizing issue is coal ash and it more specifically the coal ash spill in the Dan River back in February that contaminated millions of gallons of drinking water. 
 
During part of the rally a local minister imposed ashes on the foreheads of those in the crowd as a sign of solidarity.
 
Speakers called on Duke Energy to clean up the spill without saddling customers with the cost of it.
 
Channel 9 holding crime scene tape because we think that what Duke Energy has been doing in state is a crime and they need to be called out for that.
 
Eyewitness News reporter Jim Bradley is in the shareholders meeting.  He said Duke Energy CEO Lynn Goode has been taking questions Thursday morning and coal ash came up several times. 
 
He also said so far security has removed one rowdy person from the room.
 
North Carolina treasurer Janet Cowell is calling on Duke to release more information about the spill.
 
Officials say the state's pension fund owns about $30 million in Duke stock.
 
They say that gives them a vested interest in how Duke recovers and moves forward from the spill.
 
They're threatening to vote out Duke director Carlos Saladrigas from the regulatory policy and operations committee.

City Manager Ron Carlee declared the shareholder's meeting an extraordinary event which gives police broader powers to search personal items like backpacks. 

An extraordinary event is defined as a large-scale event or an event of national or international significance which might attract a significant number of people to a certain geographic area of the city.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police will be watching for any suspicious activity.

“We’ll just make sure that everyone behaves themselves, there’s no criminal behavior,” Capt. Jeff Estes said.

Environmental groups plan to hit the streets early in the morning on the steps of the Duke Energy building.

Eyewitness News will have complete coverage of the protests Thursday.

Click here to read past coverage on the coal ash spill.

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