Occupy demonstrators arrested at State House

Occupy demonstrator arrested Wednesday evening on State House grounds. Earlier in the day, Gov. Haley ordered the group to leave by 6pm.

COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - At the request of Governor Nikki Haley, troopers with the S.C. Bureau of Protective Services arrested nearly two dozen Occupy Columbia demonstrators after Haley ordered the group to leave State House grounds by 6pm Wednesday.

The occupiers were arrested during a driving rainstorm in front of the State House roughly a half-hour after Haley's deadline passed and after officers asked the crowed to peacefully disperse.

There were 19 people arrested in all. A Department of Public Safety spokesman says they are charged with unauthorized use of State House grounds, which amounts to a trespassing charge.

As of Thursday morning all 19 protestors are out on bond.

The arrests came after a late afternoon news conference during which Gov. Haley asked that the demonstrators collect all of their personal property and leave by 6pm.

"There is nothing I love more than to see people who know the power of their voice," said Haley. "And we expect you as Americans to be able to do that. What we don't want is what has been happening here at the State House. We have mattresses on the grounds, we have toilet paper in the bushes. We have plants that have been messed up, we have things that have been causing a problem in terms of respect of the grounds of the State House."

Haley said the Occupy group is free to protest during daylight hours, but the State House "is not a place to live."

Despite Haley's order many remained, sitting in front of the Confederate monument along Gervais Street, holding signs and chanting.

"We still maintain we have a right to assemble just like the first amendment says," said Occupy Columbia demonstrator Tim Liszewski. "Rights shouldn't be restricted by whether there is light outside or not."

Earlier in the day, Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler sent a letter to Haley , dated November 16, asking what the Budget and Control Board plans to do about the Occupy group before the Governor's Carolighting ceremony on November 28. The State House grounds are under the purview of the board.

Rep. Rick Quinn sent Gov. Haley a similar letter .

Gov. Haley says the Occupy group never asked for permission to camp out on the grounds, however, the governor noted they do have the option of doing that.

The group has been rallying at the State House since October 15, usually in crowds of several dozen.