CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Larry Klein doesn't think it makes any difference who wins the election in November. Nevertheless, he drove from his home in Sault Ste. Marie on Michigan's upper peninsula to Detroit, where he got on a bus with other protesters and made the all-night journey to Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Democratic National Convention will be held this week.
"It's all show," says Klein, who made the trip with his grandson. "Both Republicans and Democrats are one party, basically."
Klein was one of thousands of protestors who marched Sunday afternoon -- in 90-degree heat -- from Frazier Park about a mile and a half past the Time Warner Cable Arena and Charlotte Convention Center, where many of the events will be held this week.
There were protestors -- both Occupy activists and Ron Paul supporters -- in Tampa, Florida, for the Republican convention as well. But the protests in Tampa were usually small affairs. The march on Sunday in Charlotte had roughly a few thousand people.
Ayende Alcala, an activist with Occupy Charlotte, said the group organized the protest not with any singular agenda, but to give people a space to come together and be heard. "No matter what your issue is, we want to let them know we stand together," he said. "We want to have a united front to start off this Democratic National Convention."
"Behind those doors, the story is going to be the 'poli-tricks' as usual," Alcala added. "It's the art of getting elected, of pointing the finger back and forth. We want to say there's another story and that's the people on the street still suffering."
Nobody in the protest expressed much hope in the political process. Said Alcala: "It's a two-faced one-party system. They have different colors and different names, but at the end of the day, they all answer to the same Wall Street corporations that dominate the system."
Klein said that he could only afford to make the trip to one of the party's conventions, so he chose Charlotte. "I had to make a choice. I only have so much money. Obama is the president right now basically and this place is closer than Tampa," he said. "He is the president and there is a good possibility that he's going to be president again."
There were protestors of other stripes about as well: a plane circled the sky trailing an anti-abortion banner. There was also a heavy police presence, as there was in Tampa. But the march remained peaceful.
Kelly Aderholt, a Charlotte resident, rode his bike over to Frazier Park to check it out. "It's all right," he said. "The crowd's not what I thought it would be. I thought it would be bigger."
Aderholt said he was afraid, as a property taxpayer, he'd get stuck with some of the bill for the convention. Still, he said, "I'd never ever vote Republican. They're a bunch of liars."
Joe Tarr is in Charlotte with reporters from WORT 89.9 FM covering the Democratic National Convention, following their reporting on the Republican National Convention in Tampa.