Around 12:30 this morning, there were reports that some of the Occupiers who appeared to be protesting inside Marion Square were handcuffed. According to the Occupy Charleston Facebook page, several protesters were arrested.
Earlier Tuesday, about 50 Occupy Charleston members chanted slogans at King and Calhoun streets late into the night Tuesday as the wind whipped an American flag held high by one of the protesters.
Some drivers honked their horns in support, but one motorist had some cutting words.
“Get a job!” he yelled.
Without missing a beat, the group responded in unison.
“Work two jobs to pay my rent. We are the 99 percent.”
Nearby, some sat on blankets spread on the ground at Marion Square, a sign that at least a few occupiers planned to spend the night if the city would allow it.
Occupy Charleston spoke to City Council earlier in the evening to deliver its message, said Chris Inglese. It told council, “The people’s views will be heard. We are going to occupy. We are going to be everywhere all the time,” he said.
The group lists more than 700 members at its Facebook page, he said.
Things appeared peaceful at the park, but much earlier, at about 3 a.m. Tuesday, a few dozen people were at the park when police ordered them to sit on the sidewalk, said Ramon Carabolla of North Charleston.
Most of the occupiers complied, but a few, including Carabolla, stayed put in the park, he said. After about 30 minutes, police told the group they could stay if they were quiet and did not pitch tents, he said.
“These parks are going to be taken by the people to get our point across that we mean business. It was a non-violent protest and the police gave a non-violent response,” he said.
Carabolla, who said he lives on the East Side and attends Trident Tech, was among a small group who spread blankets on the ground in the park at mid-afternoon Tuesday.
They included Krystal Wernicke of
North Charleston, who held a hand-lettered poster board sign with the message, “If they enforced bank regulation like they do park rules we wouldn’t be in this mess — 99 percent.”
The 99 Percent is a phrase coined by the nationwide Occupy movement in opposition to what it sees as an unfairly privileged position of an elite one percent of the population at a time of high unemployment and economic recession.
Occupy espouses an end to corporate lobbying on Capitol Hill as well as big business funding of political candidates. Most of its protests nationally have been peaceful, but some, such as in Oakland, Calif., included violent clashes with police. Occupy Wall Street is where the movement began.
Wernicke said she is unemployed but actively looking for work after earning her high school diploma and serving a stint in the U.S. Army. She would like to be a truck driver but said she can’t afford the tuition to get a commercial driver’s license.
“I think it’s a great thing,” she said of the Occupy Charleston movement.
Mayor Joe Riley and Police Chief Greg Mullen met with three members of Occupy Charleston on Monday afternoon to discuss the group’s desire for a long-term presence at Marion Square.
Riley said they would be allowed to stay for up to seven days, but an indefinite presence would not be allowed.