Activists applaud Arizona ruling

The Charlotte Post -  June 26, 2012

Pro-immigration activists showed up at the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office Monday with flags, signs and something to say against Arizona’s immigration law.

The Latin American Coalition and Action NC gathered hours after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-3 ruling against three-fourths of SB 1070. The court upheld the “show me your papers” provision, which requires local law enforcement to verify the immigration status in any lawful stop, detention or arrest any time there is “reasonable suspicion” of an illegal resident present.

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Protest held Monday outside of BofA headquarters

Charlotte Observer - June 26, 2012

About 40 people participated in a protest outside the Bank of America Corporate Center uptown on Monday afternoon.

Protesters from the groups Occupy Charlotte and Action NC were joined by members of the Occupy Caravan national tour group in their protest of Bank of America’s foreclosure and mortgage practices.

The protesters called for a moratorium on foreclosures, and want Bank of America to offer more principal reductions.

Bank of America has said it’s working to help homeowners and move past its mortgage troubles. The bank has modified 1 million mortgages and this spring began offering principal reductions to more than 200,000 homeowners, part of the $25 billion mortgage settlement between big banks and government officials announced in February. Kelly Mae Ross

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Anatomy Of A Protest

WFAE - Tuesday May 15, 2012


Protestors converge on 5th and College Streets in Charlotte last week. Photo: Julie Rose
Protestors converge on 5th and College Streets in Charlotte last week. Photo: Julie Rose 

Last week at this time, hundreds of people were gathering in Uptown Charlotte to march on the Bank of America shareholders meeting. Over the next few hours, protesters and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police engaged in an elaborate dance, balancing safety with the right to demonstrate.

Both sides saw the day as a practice-run for the Democratic National Convention, here's an inside look at how it was orchestrated.

There was a moment last Wednesday as waves of drumming, chanting protesters took over the intersection in front of the Bank of America meeting that the police response felt almost choreographed. Without any hesitation or confrontation with protesters, police began re-directing traffic. They could have done differently. Blocking an intersection is illegal, after all.

"But what purpose do we serve in trying to make a mass arrest for impeding traffic?" asks CMPD Deputy Chief Harold Medlock was a few blocks away, watching the action beamed live from street cameras to a wall of TV screens in the command center at police headquarters.

The decision to let the demonstrators have the intersection was Medlock's. And while it felt pre-determined to onlookers, he says he made it in the moment, based on the size of the crowd and the few cars on the road.

"The fact that we were able to get that traffic out quickly and give those folks a safe space to demonstrate. . . it just made sense to allow those folks to have that intersection," says Medlock.
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Protesters hang anti-Bank of America banner on stadium

By Steve Lyttle, Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Andrew Dunn
Published in: Local News

Rainforest Action Network
Five people were arrested Wednesday morning after hanging a 70-foot banner on Bank of America Stadium, in what a coalition of protest groups said was the first in a series of actions aimed at Bank of America, Duke Energy and the Obama administration.

A spokesperson for the groups vowed additional protests in Charlotte during the next week, saying they will test the city’s new ordinance limiting such actions.

The Rainforest Action Network said its members were responsible for Wednesday’s banner, which carried the message “Bank of Coal.” On the banner, the word “America” was crossed out and replaced with “coal.”

Police said they took five people into custody – three who were hanging from the stadium with climbing equipment, another one inside the stadium and a fifth person on the ground.

Kerul Dyer, a spokesperson for the environmentalist group, identified the five arrested as

Robby Diesu, of Washington; Aleythea Dolstad, of Vashon Island, Wash.; Ben Kessler, of Denton, Texas; Sam Maron, of Atlanta; and Stephanie Taylor, of Portland, Ore.

In a news release, the Rainforest Action Network said it hung the banner because it says Bank of America has provided $6.74 billion in funding for the coal industry in the United States, according to information from Bloomberg financial news. But the group also said it is unhappy with what it claims is a “cozy relationship” between the Obama administration and the banking industry.

 Julie Morgan, of Action NC, said three groups -- the NC Coalition Against Corporate Power, Greenpeace, and the Rainforest Action Network -- will stage what were termed “massive protests” against Duke Energy and Bank of America during their shareholders meetings. Duke of America’s meeting is Thursday, and Bank of America shareholders meet next Wednesday.

Officials expect fewer than 100 protesters, and traffic delays should be minimal.

Morgan said the city’s ordinance that limits what items protesters can bring inside so-called Extraordinary Event zones, which are near the shareholder meetings, is “absurd.”

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Charlotte group protests Arizona immigration law

New 14 Carolina - April 25, 2012

CHARLOTTE -- Arizona's controversial immigration law has some North Carolinians concerned. They said North Carolina could enact a similar law later this year.

The groups We Are NC and The Latin America Coalition met in east Charlotte Wednesday to protest the Arizona law. The law gives Arizona state and local law enforcement the authority to enforce immigration laws.

The law is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

We Are NC advocate Hector Vaca said North Carolinian's should keep a close eye on the court's ruling.

“North Carolina should care because the legislators is considering similar laws like the ones in Arizona," said Vaca. "The House Select Committee decided they will wait until the fall to see what the Supreme Court's decision is whether they will attempt to pass something here in North Carolina."

Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina and Utah also are on hold pending the high court's decision.

Watch the video here.

Action NC and Greenpeace Stand Together Against Dirty Rate Hikes

Written Together by Hector Vaca, Charlotte Director for Action NC and Monica Embrey, NC Field Organizer with Greenpeace

Just last week, Attorney General Roy Cooper appealed Duke Energy's 7% rate hike. While we don’t yet know how it will play out, we do know is that this is a victory for regular folks throughout the state that have had a tough couple of years economically.

Right now, around 10% of the labor force is unemployed in North Carolina. Take home pay for most North Carolinians has increased only around 2% over the past year. Yet just last year, Duke Energy came back with a startling request for 17% increase on your electricity bill that would have brought in a whopping 11.5% return for shareholders.

After discussions with the North Carolina Utilities Commission, Duke settled on a 7% increase that would still bring in10.5% profit for their shareholders. That’s seven percent more of your money for dirty fossil fuel plants and dangerous nuclear plants. In essence, we’ve got to pay them more for the privilege of enriching their shareholders just to get poisoned on the other end of their smokestacks.

Duke Energy is showing a shocking disregard for the health and welfare of regular people just trying to get by. We applaud AG Cooper’s decision to appeal the utility commission’s order and we hope Mr. Cooper saw the hundreds that packed the rate hike hearings and thousands that submitted public comments to show their outrage at Duke Energy’s plans. We hope his decision was made because of the serious economic hardship Duke is dumping on ratepayers, in addition to the severe environmental damage Duke continues to wreak with it's addiction to dirty fossil fuels.

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Press Release

Eastside Landlord Stops Illegal Billing

Woodward Tenants United with NC Utilities Commission to Stop Illegal Billing Practices

(Charlotte, NC) After an investigation by the NC Utilities Commission, and a subsequent admission of wrongdoing on the part of the management company in regard to their rental and water billing practices, residents of Woodward Village mobile home community finally received some closure to the battle they have been waging against the company for months. To residents of this community, this outcome clearly illustrated what hard work and the will to fight injustice can accomplish.

For some time now, residents of the Woodward Village mobile home community have been living at the mercy of a repressive property management that has refused to address resident concerns. Resident grievances include high water bills, broken roads, lack of written rental leases, and local management’s refusal to accept rent payments from tenants if they do not pay their water bill at the same time.

In order to find a solution to these concerns, Woodward residents began knocking on their neighbors’ doors, collecting petition signatures, and formed their own neighborhood chapter of Action NC. To demonstrate to their landlord that the neighbors were united, residents of this community have held several marches and neighborhood picnics. At one such demonstration, local property manager, Kay Vanderburg committed to stop refusing rent when tenants pay water separately.

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Protesters rail against Duke Energy

Duke_protest.pngCHARLOTTE, N.C. -- About 50 people gathered Saturday afternoon outside the Duke Energy tower in uptown Charlotte to protest the utility company’s recent rate hikes – an increase they say will be used to pay for dangerous coal-produced energy.

They held signs that read “Clean coal is a dirty lie” and “No rate hikes Dirty Energy,” and cheered as organizers using a loudspeaker railed against the power company.

“Our message is simple,” said Héctor Vaca, director of the Charlotte chapter of Action NC, which works on behalf of low- to moderate-income families. “Duke Energy, stop making us average North Carolinians pay to have you destroy our health. We average North Carolinians will not give you a stimulus.”

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Training To Teach Renters Their Rights

WFAE, 90.7 - March 30, 2012

There are laws to help renters get the maintenance and service they need from landlords. But a lot of people don't know about them. The Charlotte Community Relations Committee and a non-profit called Action NC are holding a training Saturday to teach renters their rights.

Action NC's local director Hector Vaca says he's heard many complaints of bed bugs, broken stoves, black mold and landlords unwilling to do anything about it.

In some cases, he says, landlords have threatened to call immigration if tenants keep complaining. Vaca says renters can call the city's code enforcement to inspect the property and the Community Relations Committee to report discrimination.

"If the tenants really, really want to resolve these issues on a permanent long term basis, they need to organize themselves. They need to show the landlords that they will not stand for bad conditions and that they demand that the landlords take care of these issues," says Vaca.

Vaca hopes to organize such a group at Saturday's training.


Immigration committee holds public meeting in Raleigh Wednesday afternoon

Rep. Frank Iler is about to find himself in the middle of a contentious meeting.

The Republican Oak Island lawmaker chairs the House Select Committee on the State’s Role in Immigration Policy, which plans a public hearing today on the controversial issue of immigration reform. The committee is considering whether North Carolina should enact any new laws related to illegal immigration.

The two-hour hearing begins at 1 p.m. By mid-morning Wednesday, both sides were already gathering around the General Assembly building.

Opponents of new state laws held a press conference outside the General Assembly building, urging lawmakers to avoid strong anti-immigrant laws like those adopted in states such as Alabama and Arizona. They instead believe the federal government should deal with immigration reform.

Kevin Rogers, policy and public affairs director for ActionNC, said he rejects the idea that immigrant are a drain on the state and are “somehow less deserving members of our community than everyone else.”

“We are confused, we are angry, and we are here to put this committee on notice that we are tired of it,” he said.

Meanwhile, outside the room where the public hearing will be held, potential speakers sat in line to sign up to speak. Members of groups that support new laws against illegal immigrants passed out a document titled “Mexican Immigration Laws,” to show that the laws of that country are more strict than those in the United States.

The committee planned to hear about two hours of testimony Wednesday afternoon.