COLUMBIA – Paul Searles of Occupy COMO was playing drums in front of the Daniel Boone City Building on Thursday before helping himself to a Thanksgiving meal donated by supporters of the movement.
He and four other protesters ate roast chicken, cranberry sauce, croissants and pumpkin pie that had been donated by community members.
They were back for the second day after city workers removed a tent, sleeping bags, storage bins and other personal belongings from the downtown plaza on Tuesday morning. The city cited violations of an ordinance that addresses obstruction of public streets and sidewalks.
Despite the city's action, multiple sleeping bags were laid out or stacked up Thursday not far from the entrance to city hall.
Protester Cameron Jackson, 20, vowed to set up another tent after Thanksgiving and said he is considering a civil suit against the city.
"When they come and ask me to move the tent, I won’t move it," Jackson said. "I’m willing to resist to the point where it’s resisting arrest."
Ariel Ceara, a fellow protester, also questioned removal of the property. She said the ordinance was so vague as to make illegal the presence of anyone or anything on city space that isn't moving.
Ceara said she was also unhappy with the way the city and the police portray Occupy COMO to the public.
"They keep trying to make a distinction between us and the public – we are the public," she said.
Jackson said he will participate in Occupy COMO until he feels his First Amendment rights are respected.
The Occupy COMO Thanksgiving echoed the way the holiday was spent at encampments across the country.
In San Francisco, hundreds of campers in the heart of the financial district ate turkey dinners delivered by volunteers, church charities and supporters of the movement against social and economic inequality, according to The Associated Press.
In New York, the protesters' Thanksgiving meal was interrupted by police who told a drummer at lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to stop playing.
About 200 of the 500 protesters surrounded officers and began shouting before they agreed to end the drumming.
The meals had been provided by restaurants and individual supporters.