On December 16, 2013, a Federal Appeals Court judge ruled that South Carolina Governor Niki Haley violated the civil rights of protesters. The protesters, who gathered at the state’s capital building in 2011, were a spring off of the Occupy Wall Street movement. 19 protesters, who were a part of the group Occupy Columbia, were arrested without cause. The arrests occurred under the direction of the SC governor.
Gov. Haley ordered the arrest of Occupy members who did not break the law.
Haley ordered the arrest of protesters who were camping on the grounds. The arrests were made even though there was no law in SC that made it illegal for the group to set up camp. Seven members of the protest group filed suit against Haley for violating their first amendment rights. Attorneys for the protesters claimed that it was their message of income inequality that Haley didn’t like. They presented no danger and broke no laws. Haley’s attempts to quash the protests, as well as to silence the protester’s political speech, would not have taken place if the message had been one she agrees with, attorney’s stated in the suit. The protesters, whose hands were zipped tied, were taken to a detention center after the arrests. Charges against them were dropped shortly after.
The judge found that there was enough proof to show that the civil rights of protesters were infringed upon.
The recent ruling, which comes two years after the arrests were made, is being seen as a victory for civil rights. Although the ruling does not give restitution to the protesters at this time, it upholds their right to sue Gov. Haley and state officials involved in the arrests. In his ruling, the judge wrote that the protester’s civil rights were infringed upon by Gov. Haley, with the help of state officials, who were acting upon her orders. The ruling is further proof that while republicans often say they care about the Constitution, when civil rights get in the way of their agenda, they have no second thoughts about trampling them. The right to free speech and the right to assemble are protected by the US Constitution. Reps like Haley, who claim to care about constitutional rights, also have a habit of denying them, when it better serves their purpose.
Did the president order a crack down on the occupy protests, as some people claim?
Some Occupy protesters have pointed a finger at President Obama, claiming that he ordered a nation wide crack down on Occupy protests in 2011. In order to support this claim ‘journalists’ have cited documents that show that the FBI and other agencies were keeping tabs on the protest activity. Still there is nothing in those documents that suggests, even to a slight degree, that any federal agency ordered or even wanted the movement put down. Another ‘journalist‘ claimed he had secret. inside information from an unnamed source within the Justice Department. The source supposedly told him that the Department of Homeland Security was training state and local police to crack down on the Occupy protests. Speaking from a journalistic perspective, if I cannot track down the source of story and verify for myself that it is based on fact, I don’t give it a lot of weight. On the other hand, internal e-mails (that can be read with your own eyes) do show that President Obama did support the Occupy movement and that he requested that the civil rights of protesters not be infringed upon. There are several times that the president is known to have requested that state and local authorities not crack down on the protesters. If there was a national, coordinated effort to suppress the Occupy protest, the big question would be why did protests receive support in some parts of the country, while being openly attacked in others? With Haley and so many other Republican leaders being the loudest critics of both President Obama and the federal government, it’s unrealistic to think they wouldn’t be pointing the finger now, if federal agencies were involved in the crack downs.