Tuesday morning before I left on my commute to pick up my first 8:30am job in the uptown my phones started ringing. Multiple sources were telling me that protesters were hanging from a construction crane a few hundred feet off the ground at College and Trade. They had unfurled a banner facing the Bank of America corporate center that read: Bank of America, Funding Coal, Killing Communities. When I rolled up shortly after 8:30 I saw two police officers standing on the corner along with a photographer from the Charlotte Observer. The photographer was disappointed because she arrived too late to get the shot, the banner and climbers were already down. I then had the chance to do a stand up interview with the police Sgt. who called it in. To protect his identity and mine we will call him The Walrus.
Billy: Morning Sarge, I heard you had some excitement this morning. Were the protesters bicycle messengers?
TW: Actually, come to think of it maybe they were the ones that just look like messengers, no just kidding with you, they were professionals from an orginization called the Rainforest Action Network.
Billy: So can you tell me what happened?
TW: Well, I was working this morning off duty for the bank when at 0620hrs I walked around the Trade and College St intersection, looked up and saw a body hanging from a rope a few feet below the cross arm of the crane. My first thought was that it was a suicide because the body was just hanging there, limp. I called it in as just that, a suicide. Just as the call ended I noticed that the lifeless body started to move around, so I called back and told dispatch that he was alive and may be a jumper or a fallen worker. It was about that time that I realized he had at least one other accomplice who was now lowering himself down 40 or 50 feet from the first guy. On the third call I asked response to be slowed down and to set up a perimeter a block away because I knew at that time that we were dealing with harmless protesters.
Billy: Is that when they came down?
TW: Not exactly. I could hear the sirens of fire and medic in route when I heard the first one hanging yell over to his buddy, "It is show time!" Then they both descended acting as the counter weights for the rising banner. They both hung just below it and were sort of flying in the breeze, it looked like they were having fun. Once the News36 helicopter showed up the two men decided it was time to come down but their rope length was too short. At that time the ladder truck and a few fire fighters were called in to help lower the men to the ground.
Billy: I guess at that point you let them go home or out to breakfast?
TW: chuckling audibly: No, not quite. The two men along with two more helping them up high were arrested and taken to to the County. They will probably be out in a couple of hours.
Billy: What were the charges?
TW: Breaking in and entering, criminal trespass and creating a public disturbance.
Billy: Thanks, Sarge.
TW: Any time.
Creating a public disturbance is right, the traffic between my first job and it's two destinations was all off the normal flow and timing. With 2 tubs of mail on my bars I weaved through the streets passing the stand still of cars, trucks and buses. Even the intersections were jammed with autos getting caught red in front of green going nowhere just like they were all doing. Cars have a tendency to angle themselves left or right when the are stymied from moving forward. Two front bumpers came into my gutter within a half block on Brevard. As I swerved past the second one I realized that it would be hilarious to be taken out on my morning routine because of an anarchistic statement.