EDITOR'S NOTE: Previous versions of this story incorrectly stated that the Lowcountry Food Bank was donating food to Occupy Charleston. The Post and Courier regrets the error.

UPDATE: 4 p.m.

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Charleston City Police Chief Greg Mullen visited the Occupy Charleston site at around 3 p.m. and said he saw no immediate issues of concern with how the early set up is going.

"We're just looking forward to a good weekend," he said. "We'll show that Charleston will do this the right way."

The crowd size at Brittlebank Park had grown to about 50 people, up from the 15-20 that were among the earlier arrivals at the 12 noon outset.

Several of those attending the first day were making their feelings known through the use of homemade protest signs. "Bank$ got Bailed-out We got $old-out," read one. "Ban all lobbying," said another.

The only weather concern was the strong winds blowing across the Ashley River into the tent area.

UPDATE: 2:06 p.m.

Occupy Charleston began promptly at noon with about 15 people as the stage was being assembled.

There was no opening ceremony as organizers looked to the weekend for their biggest crowds at Brittlebank Park.

“What we’re doing is really preparing for Friday and Saturday as our biggest day here,” said Allston Smither, 25, of Charleston, an organizer of the event.

He said they hope to organize and provide one warm meal a day for attendees with food donated from various sources.

He expected organization to be loose.

“It’s like a festival-camping type event,” he said.

Occupy Charleston aims to put a local spotlight on the concerns of Wall Street protesters.


If several hundred Occupy Charleston supporters begin shouting today in Brittlebank Park, will their protestations be heard 770 miles away in the glass towers of Wall Street?

And if the numbers dwindle to just a few drum-circle diehards when the occupation ends after 99 hours on Sunday, what would have been accomplished?

Charleston today is breaking into new ground in terms of trying to join a sustainable protest that has lasted for more than four weeks in New York City on a message of targeting corporate greed.

In a glass-half-full scenario, adding the city's name to the list of sites that have joined the occupation ranks means that the movement is expanding, with anger that is deep and wide.

In a glass-half-empty view, Charleston is late to the game and has a time limit on when its initial protest will come to a close.

An even more pessimistic view is who, outside of those who assemble on the banks of the Ashley River this week, will even bother to listen.

Being confined to Brittlebank Park means the nearest symbol of corporate interest is a Marriott Hotel on Lockwood Boulevard, though there is a state unemployment office close by, as well. The state's most-recent unemployment numbers put the rate at about 11 percent.

College of Charleston communications professor Chris Lamb said that no matter what happens this

week, be it heavy rain, lukewarm attendance or swarms of enthusiasts, there can be only a positive takeaway.

"If it makes people feel good and that's all that happens, that's fine," he said. "But if it gets people involved, then we're better off than we were yesterday."

Even without a direct view of Wall Street, Adrianna Varedi, one of Occupy Charleston's several organizers, said there still is a benefit in holding a Charleston rally because it sends a message of "solidarity" to the throngs outside the doors of the corporate targets in New York.

"Just because we don't have an epicenter doesn't mean our voice isn't being heard," said Varedi, 22, who described herself as a College of Charleston graduate now working as a server at an area restaurant.

Organizers are insisting on a peaceful demonstration here, even as some gatherings have turned angrier in some of the capitals of Europe.

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said Tuesday that he has no plans to visit the gathering, saying he has his own re-election campaigning to do this week, and because he does not have any affiliation with the occupy movement.

But he did say the occupy representatives have been responsible in meeting every hurdle the city requires for a large-scale event, "which is good and to be commended," he said.

The last "new" political movement born out of a national trend that took root in Charleston was the tea party, which has fallen mostly quiet since gatherings that included at the Customhouse steps, but is expected to fire up again closer to the Jan. 21 Republican presidential primary.

One local tea party activist, Chris Horne of Ladson, said that while she sees both groups trying to make a statement, she sees the Occupy movement as more mean-spirited and polarizing than what the tea party wants to accomplish.

"They're ticked off, but they're ticked off at this whole nation, at America," she said. "The tea party was ticked off at the government. These people are ticked off at America, and I don't see why."

Occupy rules

--No alcohol or illegal drugs

--No motorized vehicles except in designated parking areas

--No excessively loud TV, radio or amplified music

--Amplified music banned after 11 p.m.

--No fireworks, firearms or explosive devices

--No littering. All litter must be removed.

--No metal detecting or digging.

--All participants must leave by 3 p.m. Sunday.

If you go

What: Occupy Charleston

When: Noon today to 3 p.m. Sunday

Where: Brittlebank Park

Web: www.occupycharleston.org

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.