COLUMBIA — Lettering on the umbrella on top of a tent in Liberty Plaza reads "Can not evict". No one sleeps in the tent; it's an artistic form of protest, members of the Occupy COMO movement say. The tent, though, is one of the reasons the group must clear all belongings from the plaza by Monday.
The occupiers, who have been staying in the plaza outside City Hall since late September, have sleeping bags, plastic containers, a fern and a tent that might violate a city ordinance.
John Glascock, director of Public Works, visited the group Thursday morning to tell demonstrators they have until Monday to move out.
In a phone interview, Glascock said the group could still demonstrate, but stored belongings must be removed. The group is also responsible for cleaning up the plaza, Glascock said.
"We can't have all the debris laying in front of City Hall any longer," Glascock said.
*Section 24-2 of the City Code of Ordinances addresses obstructing streets and sidewalks. And according to Section 24-3 of the code, objects placed on sidewalks or in other public places can be taken by the police.
David Dollens, a member of Occupy COMO, said the tent is not representative of the movement. He said he warned the people who put up the tent late Wednesday night that the structure might lead to a response from the city.
"I told them it was stupid," Dollens said. He said he believes the city has the right to remove debris.
For now, the group has voted to leave the tent up.
On Thursday night, the group held a "General Assembly" meeting to discuss the impending eviction and their next step. Options included talking to an attorney about the legality of the eviction and attempting to get arrested as a form of civil disobedience.
Monta Welch, a member of Occupy COMO, said she was not comfortable with the idea of intentional arrest. "It would be the very last straw," Welch said.
James Ginns, a member of the movement, was there at around 8:30 a.m. when Glascock arrived. Ginns said Glascock told the group they had become a permanent encampment.
Occupy protests around the nation celebrated the two-month anniversary of the movement on Thursday with a national "day of action," according to The New York Times. In Columbia, Occupy COMO saw a number of people who held signs on the corner of Broadway and Eighth Street.
Recently, governments and police have acted against Occupy movements. Police cleared Occupy Wall Street out of New York's Zucotti Park on Tuesday. Police have arrested and evicted protestors in several cities.