Protesters, police and press avoid major confrontations at Democratic National Convention

Lilly Chapa | Newsgathering | News | September 7, 2012

A large, well-trained law enforcement presence and fewer, more peaceful protesters allowed the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. to run smoothly and prevented journalists’ arrests, according to police and lawyers who followed the events.

“No reporters or photographers were arrested or threatened with arrest because there weren’t any protests that spilled into violent confrontations, which sometimes happens at these conventions,” Charlotte media lawyer Jon Buchan said. Buchan manned a media hotline for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press during the convention.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Rodney Monroe said the city had been preparing for the convention since February 2011. Charlotte law enforcement officers were sent to the NATO summit meeting in Chicago in May to study and practice crowd control tactics. Officers were trained to communicate with protesters and stay flexible. Over 3,000 out-of-town law enforcement officials joined Charlotte’s 1,750 officers to build a strong police presence at the convention.

Charlotte police used the same flexible approach seen in Tampa during last week’s Republican National Convention to handle protesters. Each city received $50 million in federal funding for security, which was spent on crowd control equipment and the out-of-town officers’ salaries.

“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police should take some credit because they had a visible and mobile presence of law enforcement officials who kept the protests tightly controlled,” Buchan said. “There wasn’t any tension between protesters and police that photographers or reporters could have gotten caught up in.”

Two journalists were confronted by police Tuesday for following what appeared to be undercover agents. Both journalists were searched and released, although one voluntarily deleted the photos he took of the agents. Police arrested 25 people, mainly protesters, during the three-day convention, 10 of whom were undocumented immigrants taking part in an immigration-related protest.

Related Reporters Committee resources:

· NM&L: Here we go again: journalists, police gear up for the 2012 political party conventions