Protester John Harrelson in front of Charlotte's Occupy encampment. (Goodwin/Yahoo)CHARLOTTE--About a half a mile away from the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, more than 100 protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement are camped out in tents and on sleeping pads in a sweltering local park.
The protest turnout has already far exceeded that of Tampa, when the threat of a hurricane derailed East Coast activists' plans to come down by bus and camp out in a tent city they dubbed "Romneyville." Protests at the RNC were so sparse that the local police chief cancelled several planned press conferences that would have addressed the force's response to activists. The largest protest event only attracted 300 people, while a coalition of 1,000 Occupy and other protesters already squashed that record in a march on Sunday in Charlotte.
Ryan Lash, an Occupier from Washington D.C., told Yahoo News on Monday that despite the group's bigger presence in Charlotte, the protesters equally dislike Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
"We don't like either side," the shirtless Lash said. "I challenge you to find a real Occupier who supports either Romney or Obama."
One Occupier organizer, Aaron Black of Minneapolis, has urged fellow protesters to back Obama over Romney, according to Lash. But to no avail. "[Romney and Obama] are the same thing," Lash said.
John Harrelson, who identified himself as a recently discharged veteran of the Marine Corps from Biloxi, Mississippi, said he's protesting the ongoing the war in Afghanistan. "Obama's not doing his job. He brought me home just to send me back," he said. Harrelson added that he doesn't think Romney would be any better.