The Daily Gamecock

Occupy unlikely to continue protesting

Interest dwindles as legislators draft bills to curb camping


Columbia residents have become accustomed to the Occupy movement since October, but after a two-month hiatus the Statehouse grounds will more than likely remain quiet and empty.

Occupy Columbia was removed from the grounds in December by an emergency regulation passed by the South Carolina State Budget and Control Board to prevent people from camping, sleeping or living on the grounds. The regulation quieted the movement until the ordinance expired last week, leaving an opening for those in the 99 percent to slip in and set up camp before the expected passing of a new Statehouse grounds bill next week that would make camping or living on the grounds permanently illegal.

But a new law might not be necessary if interest doesn’t pick back up.

While several Occupiers returned with their tents and blankets for the Wednesday resettlement, the movement’s numbers had dwindled severely by Monday.

“We had attempted to reoccupy, and due to a lack of people actually showing up, we had to pack everything up,” said longtime Occupier Gregory Karr. “It basically ended up with one or two people watching everything and that’s more than can be expected of somebody.”

While many people did, and still do, take Occupy Columbia seriously, Karr said, for others it was simply the newest fad — a bandwagon to be jumped on for the many people who are always seeking excitement. While the group was disbanded during the winter months, many of the Columbia occupiers simply lost interest and moved on.

As the fast-moving Statehouse grounds bill approaches approval, it is becoming less likely that the law will actually be needed.

“The physical occupation is over,” Karr said. “I wouldn’t say there’s any need for this bill to be passed about camping out on the grounds. It’s up to them but there doesn’t really seem to be a huge desire to do so anymore. I don’t see us coming back from this.”