Officers begin arrests after Haley orders Occupy Columbia protesters to leave Statehouse grounds

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COLUMBIA — Officers started arresting Occupy Columbia protesters Wednesday after Gov. Nikki Haley ordered them to leave the South Carolina Statehouse grounds, saying the people who had been sleeping on the complex for more than a month had cost the state more than $17,000 in property damage and overtime for police officers.

Gov. Nikki Haley says the protests have cost the state $17,360.  Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Gov. Nikki Haley says the protests have cost the state $17,360.

About 20 people decided to challenge the governor’s order. They sat by the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds, put their hands up and chanted. They were arrested shortly before 6:30 p.m. in the pouring rain without incident.

Haley said she is tired of seeing mattresses, sleeping bags, storage bins and toilet paper on the grounds that house her offices, the state’s legislative chambers, office buildings and Court of Appeals.

Haley also noted that protesters are welcome to rally during the day, but she is asking the Bureau of Protective Services to make sure they leave after sunset.

“It is not a place to live,” Haley said of the Statehouse, where several dozen protesters have been camped out since mid-October. “Don’t come back with mattresses.”

The people who resisted the order would be charged with trespassing or disorderly conduct, said Leroy Smith, who took over Tuesday as director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, whose Bureau of Protective Services is charged with Statehouse security.

“We’re asking them to peacefully leave the grounds by 6 p.m.,” Smith said.

During the 33-day protest, Haley says the state has paid $17,360 to pay officers’ overtime, and to purchase a light intended to deter people from using the bushes as bathrooms.

“I can’t allow one group to not follow the rules,” said Haley, adding that the protesters had never sought permission from a state board that manages the Statehouse grounds. “At night, we can’t protect you. At night, we can’t ask the taxpayers to protect you.”

Earlier Wednesday, Senate Maj­ority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Gaff­ney, called on Haley, who chairs that board, to clean up the protest camp because it represents a public health threat.

“If you drive past the State House you will see tables, sleeping bags, coolers, folding chairs and even a port-o-john,” Peeler wrote in a letter to Haley, citing a section of South Carolina law that sets out responsibilities for the Budget and Control Board, the body that is tasked with authorizing use of the Statehouse buildings and grounds for public use. “I do not know how these items do not invade the public health, safety and welfare of our citizens and visitors to our State House.”

During her news conference, Haley said she was relying instead on policies that set forth proper use of the Statehouse, including that permission be sought for any events happening after 6 p.m.

Several dozen Occupy Columbia participants attended Haley’s news conference, and some said they would plan to stay on the Statehouse grounds Wednesday night. Others gathered tables, signs and materials to load into a moving truck.

Tim Liszewski, the group’s liaison with state officials, said there is no threat to public health, and no one in Occupy Columbia has caused any trouble over the past 33 days.

He noted the group has rotated its setup every four days, to prevent damage to the grass, and was paying for the portable toilet on a corner of the grounds. He added that two people from the group patrol the grounds hourly overnight.

Liszewski also said that the group had been in touch with attorneys who would stand by to file court papers if any arrests take place.

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Riverman1
84223
Points
Riverman1 11/17/11 - 06:06 am
0
0
Turn the fire hoses on them,

Turn the fire hoses on them, dogs, tear gas and Barry Manilow music. Send in the Ludowici deputies. Just kick their butts for being so stupid.

alinfun
24
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alinfun 11/17/11 - 06:18 am
0
0
Riverman, Laughter is good

Riverman, Laughter is good medicine as I've always been told. Thanks for the prescription. LOL

augusta citizen
9375
Points
augusta citizen 11/17/11 - 07:11 am
0
0
That Captain & Tenille song

That Captain & Tenille song about Muskrat Suzie, Muskrat Sam would do it for me.

catfish20
258
Points
catfish20 11/17/11 - 07:16 am
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0
I think the protesters should

I think the protesters should be billed for the damage, clean up and the police protection.

Riverman1
84223
Points
Riverman1 11/17/11 - 07:37 am
0
0
AugustaCitizen, the Captain

AugustaCitizen, the Captain and Tenille kind of remind me of Nikki and her husband. Bald guy sitting back playing the piano while she sings.

I wonder if there is any political operative in SC who hasn't claimed he and Nikki had a great time together at a convention?

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 11/17/11 - 08:27 am
0
0
It's the Tea Partys fault.
Unpublished

It's the Tea Partys fault.

augusta citizen
9375
Points
augusta citizen 11/17/11 - 09:08 am
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Riverman, I can kinda see

Riverman, I can kinda see that resemblence too. You're too funny!!!

Chillen
17
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Chillen 11/17/11 - 09:50 am
0
0
It's time to end the violent,

It's time to end the violent, rated X slumber parties.

If these people were serious about protesting, they'd be in Washington DC to protest our new federal debt level. 15 TRILLION DOLLARS. The government is destroying our economy and these people don't even have a clue.

augusta citizen
9375
Points
augusta citizen 11/17/11 - 10:10 am
0
0
Chillen said, "If these

Chillen said, "If these people were serious about protesting, they'd be in Washington DC...The government is destroying our economy and these people don't even have a clue."

So true, but as we know, they're not really supposed to have a clue, they're the puppets, pawns, or useful idiots. The ones pulling the strings to keep these puppets dancing are following their manifesto to a tee.

augusta citizen
9375
Points
augusta citizen 11/17/11 - 10:14 am
0
0
I heard on the radio news

I heard on the radio news this AM that the loonies in the Occupy Wall Street are planning to storm the Brooklyn Bridge, they want 10,000 of them on it. Now that shows how ignorant they are. I wouldn't get on a bridge, packed with 9,999 other nuts, pushing, shoving, chanting, etc. it there was a pot of gold at the other end. Can you imagine if they started a stampede, how many could be hurt or killed. Of course, they'd say it was Law Enforcements fault for trying to control them.

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