Occupy’s Fever Pitch

Occupy member Michael Zytkow dons a lab coat and a stethoscope as a gimmick for the press conference.

As Michael Zytkow tries to stack his notes on a skinny, black music stand, the wind just whips the pages around.

That’s the thing about outdoor press conferences: Nature always has a say.

Michael’s a member of the Occupy Charlotte movement, and recently he’s been the group’s go-to spokesman.  He organized this press conference in the Government Center plaza off 4th Street to raise questions about several issues surrounding the city and the upcoming DNC Convention.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we called everyone here today to warn the public about an epidemic sweeping our city,” Michael says. “A virus we are referring to as ‘DNC Fever.’”

He’s flanked by a dozen supporters, a handful of them holding signs. They’re facing us, a line of 15 or so reporters and photographers.

Michael’s wearing an old lab coat and has a stethoscope dangling from his neck. It’s all part of the shtick. Doctor.  Fever.  Get it?

I’ll be honest. The costume and props set my eyes to rolling. 

But here’s the thing: Some of the questions Michael’s raising are the same ones we’ve been asking at WFAE.  Among them, he addressed these subjects:

DNCC’s Lack of Transparency
In our daily newsroom meetings, we wonder aloud about the transparency of the DNC Convention. We want to see a fundraising report. Along the same lines, our feathers were ruffled a few weeks ago when the convention’s “media walkthrough” was categorized “off-the-record” by the organizers.

CMPD’s Occupy Costs
Last week, the CMPD offered $447,000 as the total amount spent on monitoring the Occupy movement. We were skeptical and fired off a quick email to Captain Jeffrey Estes requesting a breakdown of that figure. He responded with “A further breakdown is not available at this time and may take some time to go through.” 

We’ve covered Occupy Charlotte, but we haven’t been reporting their every move. But watching them today, it struck me that there are days when we’re asking the same questions about issues in our town.

And I don’t think WFAE reporters, at least this one, are alone in feeling that way.

Like I said, the media outnumbered the supporters.



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