Occupy Columbia members stay at Statehouse for fourth night
Despite rain Tuesday night, Columbia remained occupied.
Most of Occupy Columbia protesters had migrated to the top of the Statehouse steps under the arch where they met for their evening general assembly, one of two meetings every day during which the protesters discuss and negotiate the strategy of their leaderless and purposefully mission-less protest. Strewn about them were their scarce belongings — sleeping bags, backpacks, musical instruments and signs from “The Middle Class is Too Big to Fail” to “End the Fed.”
While the Occupy movement is opposed to politics, Travis Bland said the group had to do a little politicking to be allowed to move off the wet lawn onto the steps for the night.
“We talked to a state senator to allow us to get up there,” said Bland, a 23-year-old Columbia resident. “We’re all kind of wet and exhausted from the rain.”
Yet the group was determined to stay the night. They had covered their coolers and other objects that remained on the lawn facing Gervais Street. A pair of women in ponchos brought the grateful group a hot meal donation: brown rice, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Catherine Bruce, who is on the group’s food committee, said individuals and businesses had been donating food since the protest began on Saturday.
“I try to come out here three hours a day,” said Bruce, a USC graduate student. “We try to make sure people have something to eat.”
Bland said many protesters came to and from their jobs to the protest. Others, he said, were underemployed or jobless. Bruce, like many of the protesters, was reluctant to identify any specific issue that brought her out to the Statehouse.
“I see this as an evolving, organic movement that is giving people some confidence that they can stand up and stand together,” Bruce said. “There was a time that people didn’t feel like there was anything they could do.”