'Occupy Raleigh' protesters vow to return after arrests
Supporters of the "Occupy Wall Street" protests promised to be back in downtown Raleigh Sunday, a day after 20 people were arrested after a demonstration at the State Capitol.Posted — Updated
Organizers of the "Occupy Raleigh" protests said they would convene again at State Capitol grounds on Edenton Street at noon and 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
"Even if we aren't back tomorrow morning, we will be back," law school student Jeanelle Alexander said Saturday.
The Occupy Raleigh protest drew hundreds early Saturday. The group doesn't have formal goals, but on Saturday, protesters expressed themes familiar with the movement: Corporations have too much power, and economic inequality affects the so-called "99 percent," or everyone but the 1 percent richest Americans.
Police said that more than 90 people remained at the rally around 7:30 p.m, more than four hours after their permits expired.
About 75 protesters moved to the sidewalk and continued their demonstration, police said, but 19 people stayed behind, locked arms and were arrested. A woman was also arrested two hours later for trying to enter the closed Capitol grounds.
Police said they charged 20 people with second-degree trespassing in connection with the protest:
Demonstrators said the arrests were overkill.
"There's a lot more crime going on in the city of Raleigh, Durham and North Carolina that you have to worry about rather than people sitting around and exercising their rights," supporter Shawn Mitchell said.
Like the movement in other cities, Occupy Raleigh wants to literally occupy ground, camping out through Nov. 5. State officials denied Occupy Raleigh that permit in part because the State Capitol Police don't have as many officers as before to provide extended security, Jill Lucas, a spokeswoman for the agency that oversees the police force, said Thursday.
The Legislature cut State Capitol Police funding this year by $2.3 million, leading to dozens of layoffs so that its officers largely work on weekdays.
"We are continuing to brainstorm alternative methods and options to obtain a permit and will continue to send a message to Raleigh that we intend to comply with laws should they choose to allow us to do so. However, we intend to begin our occupation," Angela Schulte, 36, of Cary, a member of the group, said Friday.
Last weekend, the Occupy Raleigh movement attracted about 200 people.
Similar groups have been developing in cities across North Carolina. "Occupy" meetings have been held in Wilmington, Winston-Salem and on college campuses. In Asheville, protesters have been camping at various downtown sites in hopes of finding a permanent spot to occupy, with 100 or more people attending nightly meetings at Pritchard Park.
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