Occupy demonstrators about to hit Columbia

Occupy Spartanbrug demonstrators gather in Morgan Square Thursday. Midlands activists are planning an Occupy Columbia protest this weekend. / Photo courtesy:WHNS

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - They call themselves the 99 percenters, and they're about to take their message to the streets of South Carolina.

On Thursday, roughly 30 people rallied in downtown Spartanburg as an offshoot to the four weeks of protests of banks and financial institutions in New York City. The Occupy Spartanburg protesters gathered in Morgan Square, marching through occasional rain with signs that read "Greed is not a moral value" and "Get Wall St. out of government."

The Occupy Wall Street protests in New York have been going on for four weeks, with the movement slowly spreading across the country. Columbia is next on the list.

On Thursday evening, a small group of Midlands residents that make up the grassroots movements known as Occupy Columbia, learned the ropes of peaceful protesting at a meeting in the capital city.

The group is pledging non-violence for their Saturday protest at the State House. They consider themselves part of the 99 percent they say the government ignores and overlooks because they are not wealthy.

"Right now the decks are stacked so woefully against people without money that it's very hard to climb your way up to the top," said Occupy Columbia member Tim Liszewski. "Not everyone's going to be a CEO. But, we have to make a wage where we can pay the bills."

The small group, which stresses their message isn't about partisan politics, but rather challenges the status quo, both Republican and Democrat.

"When you get down to the most basic level of all of the various grievances that we have, it's a feeling of powerlessness," said Andrew Margalit.

The unemployed 21-year-old Columbia man is struggling to find work, and like many in the Occupy Columbia group, is looking to have their voices heard.

Earlier this week at Occupy protests in Boston, New York and Seattle, some say the voices were too loud. Hundreds of arrests were made after protestors clashed with police. In Boston, authorities say the demonstrators didn't have the proper permits to camp out when they moved into a prohibited area.

Columbia officials do not expect a wild scene, but Columbia police chief Randy Scott says extra officers will be on standby in case they are needed at Saturday's Occupy Columbia event.

"They're coming to peacefully protest about their issue," said Scott. "This is not something that is new to Columbia. So we want to make sure they are safe and the citizens are safe while they're here."

That was the same message being sent Thursday in a small room in the capital city Occupy Columbia takes their other message to the streets.

" We should be looking out for every citizen of this state not just those with the pocketbooks," said Tim Liszewski.

Saturday's Occupy Columbia demonstration is set to start at 9AM at the State House in Columbia.