Occupy Columbia Protestors Told to Leave City Hall
COLUMBIA - Columbia protestors affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement could face arrests Monday for violating city code.
On Wednesday, the group set up a tent and sleeping bags outiside city hall on the sidewalk. Protestor Carl Lewis says they did it to symbolize the occupy part of the movement by occupying the sidewalks of city hall.
Section 24 of the Columbia city code says it is illegal to block city sidewalks and streets and that police can take any belongings. The city's Public Works Department says it poses as a safety hazard and nuisance and will take action Monday morning. Employees there have already disconnected the power from outlets near city hall to prevent free utlilites and further movement.
Lewis says the group has no intent on leaving despite the threat. The protestors have not received written notice and plan to spread out all their belongings on the sidewalk Monday to make it harder to leave and for the city to gather their belongings. They want to sit down with the Columbia Police Department and legal counsel Saturday to discuss an agreement.
The group began about two months ago with one person who held signs ouside of Columbia City Hall. The goal was to get as many people aboard the protest as possible. There are at least 30 people who come and go throughout the day and as many as 12 people sleeping near city hall at night.
Lewis says the community has been supportive and people even have been providing the protesters with food and gift cards to buy the supplies they need.
Many of these local protesters also promised to leave and go to Washington D.C. if Columbia does make them move Monday. They also threatened to spread throughout Columbia and keep coming back until the government changes their actions.