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Gov. Nikki Haley: Occupy Columbia Can't Stay Overnight

5:22 PM, Nov 16, 2011   |    comments
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  • Occupy Columbia protestors begin packing up after Gov. Nikki Haley said they had to leave on Nov. 16, 2011.
  • Occupy Columbia members appeared during Haley's 4 p.m. news conference on Nov. 16, 2011.
  • Occupy Columbia protestors begin packing up after Gov. Nikki Haley said they had to leave on Nov. 16, 2011.
  • Occupy Columbia protestors begin packing up after Gov. Nikki Haley said they had to leave on Nov. 16, 2011.
  • Protesters make a sign that reads "Free Speech Ends at 6 p.m."
    

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ordered members of the Occupy Columbia movement to leave the grounds of the State House by 6 p.m.

Haley held a news conference Wednesday afternoon in the lobby of the capitol building.

"What we will not have have is our State House grounds affected," Haley said.

The Occupy Columbia movement had been out on the lawn of the State House for 33 days.

Haley said she respects people's right to protest and voice their opinion, but she said the protestors are damaging State House property. Haley claimed the group has been urinating in the bushes, something state workers have had to clean up.

"I want them to continue to do that [express their views...but do it with the rules that are in place...This is a place of law, not a place to sleep."

"That's not what we do here in South Carolina."

Moments after she made her announcement, members of the movement could be seen packing up a U-Haul truck outside the building.

Haley also said the group has not filed the proper papers to be out on the grounds.

"We can't allow one group to do something that no other group is allowed to do," Haley said.

According to the governor, between security and cleanup, the movement has cost the state $17,000, and would cost $70,000 by February.

While the group will be forced to leave overnight, Haley said the protestors are welcome to come back during daylight hours.

South Carolina Department of Public Safety Chief Leroy Smith said those who do not leave will be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct.

Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina responded to Haley with the following message:

"We urge our officials to exercise their authority in a manner that accommodates peaceful expression and protects the right to peacefully protest, without summarily curtailing protesters rights.   We are concerned that today's action by the governor does curtail those rights. Respect for the First Amendment accommodates reasonable 'time, place, and manner' regulations governing the use of public parks for expressive activity. But the First Amendment also prohibits ad hoc action by officials to impose restrictions that limit free expression."

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