2 arrested in uptown as hundreds of protesters march



CHARLOTTE, N.C. - One protester and one bystander were arrested during a march in uptown Sunday that drew hundreds of people, officials said.

Police said Anna Marie Wright was arrested at 4th and College streets. Officers said she was wearing a mask and was found with a knife.

Chris Wright Stephens was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct, assault on a government official and resisting arrest on South College Street, police said.  Officials said he was a bystander.

Many of the protesters first gathered in Frazier Park for a rally before the march.

They set up around the park with tents and tables, and banners displaying their message.  Speakers addressed the crowd from a stage.

The protesters are from places including Charlotte, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.  More are expected to come from New York. 

Some of them were at the Republican National Convention last week and said they wanted to continue spreading their message in Charlotte. Those messages include calls for peace and green energy, as well as more social and economic justice.

“Where’s the progress? We have not seen it out here on the streets, and so as I stand before this banner, that’s what we here to do today,” said Occupy Charlotte member Ayende Alcala.

Originally, protesters told Channel 9 they were expecting at least a few thousand people to show up. 

Several hundred gathered on Sunday for the march, which looped past Bank of America and Wells Fargo and ended up back at the park.

Police increased their presence around the park and throughout uptown.  A police helicopter flew over uptown, and officers on bikes and motorcycles are patrolling along with fire crews.

Channel 9 spoke with one woman who lives in Fourth Ward about the activity on Sunday.  

“Yeah, it’s locked down, but there are ways that we can get out through Fourth Ward,” said Cita Streiff.  “So, I’m just waiting to see what happens so I’m not anticipating being totally shut in.”

Streiff told Channel 9 she doesn’t really have any security concerns. Seeing all of the officers out makes her and others feel that police are ready to handle anything that may come their way, she said.

Police said they do not have a plan to move some protesters from where they are camping in Marshall Park. That’s despite an ordinance Charlotte passed in February that bans camping on city property.

Charlotte’s extraordinary event rules went into effect Sunday. It means there is a long list of items that people can’t carry around, such as backpacks, hair spray, magic markers and socks.

Many say the rules limit free speech, but Charlotte’s city attorney said officers will enforce the ordinances fairly, to protect public safety.