CHARLOTTE – With less than a month before the Democratic National Convention, the city on Wednesday released details about what streets will be closed for security during the event.
But Mayor Anthony Foxx promised the city will be open for business during the three-day convention that is expected to attract thousands of visitors.
It will, however, be a little harder for people who work downtown to get around.
Foxx said the city had to “strike the best balance ... between security and mobility.” But he said businesses that “want to stay open, will be able to stay open.”
The city has been planning for the convention for more than a year. A big part of that has been trying to come up with a security plan.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has been coordinating security with the U.S. Secret Service. While the Secret Service will be responsible for security inside the convention hall and stadium, Charlotte police have to maintain order for the many gatherings surrounding the convention.
The city is expecting thousands of protesters. Two days before the convention, a coalition of 70 groups is planning to hold peaceful protests on economic inequality and other issues under the name Wall Street South. The national Occupy movement also has issued a loose call for protesters, as have anarchist groups.
Officials at Wednesday’s news conference say they plan to post signs and use “physical barriers” and uniformed law enforcement officers to enforce security.
The convention is being held from Sept. 4-6. For the first two days, the Time Warner Cable Arena in the city’s downtown will be the main venue. On the last day, President Barack Obama will make his acceptance speech at the 74,000-seat outdoor Bank of America stadium where the city’s NFL team plays.
The road closings were expected. Charlotte police had said some downtown streets would be closed and that there would be limited access in some areas for security reasons.
The security plan shows that portions of more than 20 downtown streets will be closed to traffic or have limited access to pedestrians that week. The closures are centered mostly near the arena and stadium. Among the closures: Drivers won’t be able to use the John Belk Freeway for much of the day Sept. 6 between Interstate 77 and Independence Boulevard. That’s a major thoroughfare leading into the downtown area. In addition, three vehicle checkpoints will be set up in the area near the stadium.
Police Chief Rodney Monroe said handling traffic will probably be his department’s biggest challenge.
Foxx said people should walk or use public transportation to get around the downtown area.