All told, there were far more onlookers and police than protesters in downtown Charlotte today, but that's probably to be expected. The news of an Occupy Wall Street protest parade spread quickly, and delegates and locals alike ran down to the barriers police stationed on the sidewalks to see what was going on. They saw maybe a couple thousand people, protesting and standing up for just about everything you can imagine: they're against coal, for free access to abortion, against democracy, for socialism, against war, for gay marriage, against Republicans, for unions, against banks, for Obama, against Obama. By now, anyone in Seattle who's paid any attention to Occupy events knows the chants: "Tell me what democracy looks like/This is what democracy looks like," "Whose streets?/Our streets," and so on. (The drummers, I must say, were of far inferior quality to Seattle's Occupy drummers. They were letting the chants lead the drums, as opposed to the other way around, making for a very messy rhythm to the whole thing.)
On the sidelines, delegates applauded the causes they agreed with (reproductive rights and anything relating to "banksters") and turned their eyes down and otherwise ignored the causes they disagreed with. One older woman wearing head-to-toe Obama regalia bit her lip and quietly shook as she tried not to yell at a young woman who was shouting "OBAMA IS A MURDERER!" directly in her face One young man apparently mistook the march for a pro-Obama march. He carried a sign that read "Only a tyrant fears an armed electorate!!" on one side and "Austerity now!" on the other side.
The march continued through downtown, past several bank buildings (Wells Fargo was called "greedy") and down to the Bank of America stadium where President Obama will be speaking on Thursday night. Everything that I saw was peaceful, with police trying to give the protesters a wide berth. Meanwhile, the sidewalks are full of some lively discussions. One young man was yelling at a middle-aged woman, "Obama didn't even do anything to help the veterans!" She responded, in clipped tones, "That's 'Mister President.'" This being the south, he apologized immediately.