With support from the South Carolina Progressive Network, at 6 p.m. this local tangent of the Occupy Wall Street movement returned to the grounds of Columbia’s State House facility.
They still remain there tonight, just five days after some were arrested for refusal to leave after dark.
Approximately 250, including casual observers, attended a rally for the first hour. Following the addresses issued by many from an open microphone, attendees enjoyed music and spirited chants, most of which were directly slyly towards Gov. Nikki Haley.
About 30 Occupiers were still present as of 10:30 p.m.
Included in tonight’s participants was state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg), who came not as a legislator, she told WIS-TV, but as individual citizen. “I just feel very strongly that (free speech) is as basic as citizenship.”
Last Wednesday Gov. Haley ordered the arrest of Occupy Columbia participants who, on their 33rd day on the property, refused to vacate for nightfall. Complaints regarding use of the property were made by state legislators, she said earlier that day, calling for an implied curfew on the demonstrators. While their presence was tolerable during daylight, Haley issued threats of arrest should the group remain on the grounds during nighttime hours.
Officers of the state’s Bureau of Protective Service and the Dept. of Public Safety arrested 19 that evening of Nov. 16. Columbia’s Mayor Steve Benjamin and Chief of Police Randy Scott refused to accommodate Haley’s request for aid from city police earlier that same day; Benjamin later called the arrests “unjust.”
No arrests were made tonight, however. DPS directory Leroy Smith informed Occupiers they could remain as long as they used no obstructive objects or furnishings.
Not that the group wasn’t prepared to be arrested, though. “(P)ack a toothbrush and $100” was the advice ProNet gave earlier today to participants who intended to protest any orders to leave the grounds. Progressive Network also offered to aid in legal representation.
Pictures of tonight’s event by photographer Sean Rayford can be seen on his website.
Occupy Charleston’s website features livestream video of this and other events.