Ruling: Haley, others can be sued for removing 'Occupy Columbia' - FOX Carolina 21

Court: Haley, others can be sued for removing 'Occupy Columbia' protestors in 2011

Posted: Updated:
A Bureau of Protective Services officer removes an 'Occupy Columbia' protestor in November, 2011. A Bureau of Protective Services officer removes an 'Occupy Columbia' protestor in November, 2011.
Gov. Haley and Chief Zachery Wise look over the 'Occupy Columbia' crowd on November 16, 2011. Gov. Haley and Chief Zachery Wise look over the 'Occupy Columbia' crowd on November 16, 2011.
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

A decision by South Carolina's governor to order the removal of 'Occupy Columbia' protestors from the State House grounds two years ago can serve as basis for a civil lawsuit, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

Governor Nikki Haley; Leroy Smith, Director of the South Carolina Public Safety; Zachery Wise, Chief of Police of the South Carolina Bureau of Protective Services; and others had hoped the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit would reverse the ruling of a lower circuit court that they were not immune from liability for the removal and arrest of 19 protestors on November 16, 2011.

Thirty-three days into the 'Occupy Columbia' movement, Gov. Haley decided she'd had enough and ordered the removal from the State House grounds of any remaining protestors after 6 p.m. that day.

"We see toilet paper in the bushes, sleeping bags," said Haley during a news conference two hours before the deadline to vacate the grounds. "It's not a place to live -- it's a place to use as you want during daylight hours."

"Protest and do whatever you want to do during daylight hours. As of 6 o'clock, everyone's property needs to be off, continued Haley. "We go by the rule of law. We are not California, we are not NY, we are SC and we believe in the respect of property and citizens."

Two hours later Bureau of Protective Services officers placed plastic zip ties on the wrists of those protestors who elected to stay and transported them to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

Charges of unauthorized use of the State House grounds were dropped two weeks later.

"In light of the case law from this circuit and from the Supreme Court, it was clearly established on November 16, 2011, that arresting Occupy Columbia for protesting on State House grounds after 6:00 p.m. was a First Amendment violation," wrote Circuit Judge Stephanie D. Thacker.

The court says the action violated the protesters' civil rights because no regulation in place at the time banned people from living on State House grounds.     

Two years ago, a South Carolina federal judge blocked authorities from removing the protesters but reversed that ruling after the Budget and Control Board - of which Haley is chairwoman - approved emergency regulations banning sleeping on State House grounds.

A spokesperson for the governor's office said Monday afternoon that there are still several steps to go to resolve the matter in the courts. "We continue to stand behind the decision made two years ago – and which is still the rule today – that the Statehouse grounds are not meant to be used as a public toilet or campground," wrote Doug Mayer.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Powered by WorldNow
Fox Carolina
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2014, WHNS; Greenville, SC. (A Meredith Corporation Station) and WorldNow. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.