What You Can't Bring to Downtown Charlotte -- PICTURES
Updated: September 4, 2012 | 4:41 p.m.
September 4, 2012 | 3:41 p.m.
“No” seems to be the popular word of the Republican and Democratic conventions. Not just with politicians, but among the omnipresent security guarding the convention entrances.
There are the obvious no's: no firearms, no radiological materials, no knives, no fireworks, no razorblades, no needles.
There are the surprising no's: no fruit, no baseballs or softballs, no sticks, no signs, no flashlights, no Frisbees, no whistles, no “inflated balls of any kind,” no cameras with lenses over 75mm, no unopened envelopes.
There’s the humorous no: no “chairs of any kind.” (It seems Invisible Obama will not be attending his own convention.)
And then there’s the potentially illegal no outside the convention: no “container or object of sufficient weight to be used as a projectile" is allowed within the central business district of Charlotte, the Democratic convention’s host city.
City laws that went into effect on Saturday dictate that during “extraordinary events,” an extra laundry list of items become illegal within a more than 100-square-block district of downtown Charlotte. Potentially, any nongovernment employee carrying a backpack, handbag, water bottle, bike helmet, baby stroller, or non-service pet is subject to arrest and possibly jail.
And the vague wording of “sufficient weight to be used as a projectile” essentially leaves the completion of the banned-items list up to the opinion of the 5,150-person security force, mostly brought in from surrounding cities for the convention.
Enforcement, to this point, has not been exacting or stringent. Early convention protesters with coolers filled with bottled water have been left unperturbed by police, according to news reports.
Indeed, the city ordinances dictate that only containers or bags "carried with the intent to conceal weapons or other prohibited items" are subject to search. But it’s the method of uncovering this intent that has Chris Brook, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, uncomfortable.
No person has to submit to a bag search if requested by an officer, he told CBS News. But a refusal leaves the officer with a choice: free the person, or arrest them. And the decision on whom to press for searches could result in unconstitutional profiling, Brook said.
So if you are planning to head to downtown Charlotte, stay alert and pack light.