CHARLOTTE – I've been in Charlotte for six hours and already I've seen more protesters than I did during the entire Republican National Convention in Tampa.
Early in the afternoon outside the EpiCentre complex near the Time Warner Cable Arena, a catch-all march of 500-1,000 protesters representing more than 70 different mostly left-of-center groups proceeded down College Street. Police peacefully escorted demonstratrators unhappy with the treatment of illegal immigrants, with U.S. support for Israel, the proposed construction of the Keystone Pipeline, war, drones, attacks on abortion rights, and big business writ large.
"It's more of a collective message towards change, however we all do have our own individual ambitions," said 21-year-old Sarona Bedwan of Ohio. "But that should not mean that we can't all come together as a people to protest for change."
The March On Wall Street South, as it was called, was flush with the anti-corporate rhetoric that dominated Occupy Wall Street protests of last fall. Even though the majority of protesters were expressing grievances with the policies of the Obama White House, some said they still planned to vote for him instead of Republican Mitt Romney or third party candidates like the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson or Green Party nominee Jill Stein.
"Right now I think we're at too critical of a moment where Mitt Romney, as bad as [Obama] is, would be much worse than Barack Obama,” said one protester who came over to a police barricade to talk with the press.
"Barack Obama has my vote but at the same time he does not have my voice, he does not have my bumper, and he definitely doesn’t have my money. But he has my vote because he is the lesser of two evils,” the protester said.
Organizers of the march have events planned for later this week, and have already shown more get-out-the-protest heft than their counterparts in Florida.