Temporary Lockdown of DNC Arena Leaves Attendees, Donors Stranded

Sep 5, 2012 9:47pm
ap dnc crowds cc 120905 main Temporary Lockdown of DNC Arena Leaves Attendees, Donors Stranded

Hundreds of delegates waited outside of Time Warner Cable Arena as the entrance was closed during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Sept. 5, 2012.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Time Warner Cable Arena, which is hosting the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., went on temporary lockdown Wednesday night with close to 200 people outside the entrance literally pressed up against the glass doors trying to get in.

For a frustrating hour, hundreds of delegates, spectators and media outside the Time Warner Center waited, yelling to law enforcement about the delay and demanding that they be let in.

Eventually, a Secret Service official stood on a barrier and asked the crowd to slowly creep forward. Everyone eventually got in right before 10 p.m.

The lockdown started just before 9 p.m. But moments later, as the number of unhappy delegates and dignitaries piled up outside, local police opened the doors to let 1,000 more people into the arena, and people streamed in.

However, police then told crowds still locked out that the arena was at capacity, and some delegates — including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — and members of crowd appeared to give up on the chances of getting in tonight.

Fire marshals and officials on the scene told ABC News the building was “temporarily” at “capacity.” The hold momentarily left donors, attendees and media that were not already in the arena stranded, unable to enter the complex or reach the floor.

A fire marshal said the situation was “going to get worse when the president comes.”

Former President Bill Clinton was scheduled to speak at tonight’s event, and President Obama was to be in the arena to watch.

“I’m sad because I wanted to see Bill Clinton,” said Tayech Kiffle, who traveled from Atlanta to be in Charlotte for the convention.

“How come they’re closing it at such an early hour?” she asked.

Kiffle and her family decided not to wait it out and headed to a nearby restaurant.

Charlotte resident Ashley Mills was more optimistic about the situation.

“It’s a surprise to me that this is happening because it has been so well-run up to this point,” Mills said.

Mills had been waiting 45 minutes and the Secret Service had told her that it was only letting in members of Congress. But Mills said just being a part of the convention made the delay bearable.

Some thought President Obama’s presence in the area may have led to the lockdown. But with so many streets closed around the arena, it was unknown why officials would shut down the whole area right before primetime speakers took the stage.

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