CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Hundreds marched Sunday through Charlotte's central business district ahead of the Democratic National Convention to protest corporate greed in a demonstration that was lively but smaller than organizers had touted.
About 600 marchers carried signs and banners, banged drums and chanted on a sunny afternoon as part of the March on Wall Street South. Their numbers were a fraction of the thousands that organizers expected for what had been planned as the week's biggest protest.
Aided by the pleasant weather, the protesters showed more spirit than their rain-soaked counterparts at last week's Republican National Convention in Tampa. There, effects of Hurricane Isaac's outer bands thinned the ranks of protesters.
The Charlotte demonstrators had anti-war signs as well as those promoting unionized labor and the plight of undocumented immigrants. One read: "Bankrupting America" with a font and logo that mimicked Bank of America. Another said: "OBAMA MURDERS CHILDREN WITH DRONES."
Participants ranged from young girls in cheerleading outfits and parents pushing strollers to Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in black shirts and red bandannas.
At least 100 police officers in plain uniforms walked along with the parade, carrying gas masks, wooden batons and plastic hand ties. A police helicopter hovered so low that people on the ground could feel the wind off its rotors. Organizers have pledged that the march will be peaceful.
The route of Sunday's March on Wall Street South will take participants past the corporate headquarters of Bank of America and a major office hub for Wells Fargo. They are two of the nation's largest financial institutions and beneficiaries of massive taxpayer-backed loans during the 2008 bailout of the financial sector. Both banks have also been criticized for roles in the home foreclosure crisis.
Before the march, the demonstrators gathered at a park on the outskirts of Charlotte's Uptown business district. Speakers addressed the crowd from a stage in front of a banner that read "PEOPLE POWER NOW."
Official convention events begin Tuesday, but thousands of delegates, officials, protesters and journalists began gathering over the weekend.