Protesters flood ‘Wall Street South’

Charlotte, N.C. — Called “the March on Wall Street South,” a demonstration confronting the banks and corporations headquartered here that are wreaking havoc across the country filled the uptown streets of this Southern financial center on Sept. 2.

Despite extreme heat, more than 2,500 people from throughout the South and across the U.S. marched past the many gleaming corporate headquarters, shouting out a people’s agenda for jobs and justice as the Democratic National Convention was preparing to convene.

Participants came from cities throughout North Carolina, including Winston-Salem, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Rocky Mount, Greenville, Asheville, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Wilmington. Many more traveled hours from cities such as Baltimore, Atlanta; Greenville, Miss.; Washington, D.C.; Tampa, Fla.; Pittsburgh; and New York. A busload of more than 40 unemployed people whose homes are being foreclosed by Bank of America rode overnight from Detroit.

A “No Papers No Fear” bus, which had left Phoenix on July 29 with more than 40 undocumented people to bring their demands to the DNC, also joined the march with a spirited contingent against the deportation and criminalization of immigrant communities.

Other contingents in the march included unemployed workers, a group of Southern unionists who face onerous labor laws, people trying to end the many wars being waged by the U.S. government on countries abroad and on the poor and oppressed here at home, environmentalists calling for “No war, no warming,” and a group demanding equal rights for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people.

Yen Alcala, an organizer with the Coalition to March on Wall Street South and also with Occupy Charlotte, said the demonstration was “historic” and “built an unprecedented level of unity between so many different groups and struggles on a grassroots level.”

“The March on Wall Street South,” continued Alcala, “showed what is possible when we unite, and pointed the finger at those who are responsible for the injustices being experienced by the 99%: the banks and corporations, and a political system that is controlled by the 1%. Building people’s power from the bottom up is the only solution to win jobs and justice for poor and working people.”

Along the march, demonstrators stopped in front of the world headquarters of Bank of America and the regional offices of Duke Energy. At each stop, people who have been directly impacted by the practices of these banks and corporations — whose homes are being foreclosed on, who have massive amounts of student loan debt, and whose communities are being devastated by coal mining and energy rate hikes — spoke out and confronted these institutions.

Recognizing the popularity of the issues raised by the protesters, the city’s daily newspaper, the Charlotte Observer, reported on Sept. 2, “Sensing the political winds, banks and their lobbyists will be taking low profiles during the convention.”

Elena Everett was a tireless organizer with the Coalition to March on Wall Street South. “The march was a tremendous success,” she said. “Our message for jobs and justice was heard loud and clear by the bankers and the politicians of both parties.

“But this is just the beginning. We know that the only way that real change has ever been won is when people come together, get organized and build social movements to raise demands to the powers that be. And that’s exactly what we’re doing — building a movement for jobs, education, health care, the environment and housing, and against wars, racism and bigotry, deportations and jails.”

Throughout the remainder of the week, the coalition plans to support actions and events being developed by other groups, including the Undocubus and the Southern Workers Assembly on Sept. 3. It will also be mobilizing support for the reoccupation of Marshall Park, being led by Occupy Charlotte, which was evicted from the park by police eight months ago.

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