Occupy Columbia protesters have been ordered to stop their demonstration in front of the city's administration building, because officials say they are not complying with two city ordinances. KBIA’s Lee Jian Chung reports on the demonstrators plans.
By Lee Jian Chung (Columbia, MO.)
Two months have passed since the Occupy Columbia protests began in front of City Hall. Boxes full of protest signs, sleeping bags and even a potted fern are stacked up beside the entrance. A tent has been set up on the other side, words spray painted on the outside. “We are strong,” it reads. “Solidarity” and “This is a sign”. Protestor Carl Lewis watches the belongings from a corner. Lewis says the protesters were approached by City Public Works director John Glascock who asked them to remove the items. “We have to pack our stuff up before Monday or else they’re going to get rid of all of our stuff.”
Public Works spokesperson Jill Stedem says by having their belongings on the street, the protesters are not in compliance with two Columbia city ordinances. She says the space in front of City Hall is not a campsite, but a place where public officials conduct their business. “Chapter 24 addresses those, which tells people they cannot obstruct walkways or sidewalks or streets and we’re asking them to abide by our ordinance.”
Stedem says the city will remove the belongings with police assistance but says they are not running the protesters off. As long as they remove their belongings, the Occupy Columbia demonstrations can continue in front of City Hall. However, Lewis says demonstrators are going to keep their possessions where they are. “We’re actually going to push to where we can keep our stuff here by talking to a lawyer and talking to the CPD about it.”
Lewis says the Occupy Columbia demonstration will continue in front of City Hall for as long as possible with as many of their possessions as possible.