Town bans overnight camping, places rules on picketing
by Kara Lopp
Mint Hill is preparing for the Democratic National Convention by revamping rules about what can take place on town-owned property.
The changes, approved during the Thursday, May 10, town commissioners meeting, are aimed at protecting town property and include no overnight camping. The town hasn’t received any requests for camping during the convention, but Mint Hill Police Chief Tim Ledford said officials would rather be safe than sorry. Ledford spearheaded the effort to revamp the town policy.
“Our research has indicated some organizations send advance parties to probe local law enforcement preparedness and capabilities prior to the main event. Smaller jurisdictions that are close to the main events are prime locations for the organizers to set up camp,” he said. “I recommended some additional provisions to ensure officer safety as well as (safety for) the good citizens of Mint Hill.”
The ordinance, which is now in effect, extends permit requirements to include all public assemblies, not just formal parades. And groups who expect 50 or more people to picket are now required to give written notice to the police chief at least 48 hours before the gathering. The ordinance doesn’t make town-owned parks and other properties off-limits for demonstrators, but does prohibit overnight camping. Signs or banners with poles must be wooden and blunt – no metal poles are allowed, according to the ordinance.
Town Manager Brian Welch said previously the changes are beneficial.
“I think we’re just better off being proactive,” he said. “The DNC coming to Charlotte is obviously going to impact us … it’s like nothing that we’ve ever seen, that’s for sure. It’s certainly harmless to be prepared. Sometimes it’s best to jump in front of something before we have a problem.”