Maybe South Carolina actually does have something the rest of the country can emulate—at least as it relates to the Occupy movement.
Last night, S.C. Governor Nikki Haley backed off last week’s order that the Occupy Columbia protesters had to be off of the State House grounds by 6 p.m. or be arrested for trespassing. Last Wednesday 19 protesters were arrested by the Bureau of Protective Services officers when they refused to leave.
Outrage immediately followed with attorney’s weighing in that the arrests violated the First Amendment. Occupiers were buoyed by the Mayor of Columbia, Steve Benjamin, and his police chief, Randy Scott, refusing to take part in any way in the arrests saying that the protesters were not breaking the law.
All this led to a showdown last night at the front steps of the State Capitol. The word went out calling for supporters of Occupy Columbia’s 19 to be at the State House at 6 p.m. for a peaceful protest and challenge to Governor Haley.
In what was probably the largest turnout since the opening day of Occupy Columbia, First Amendment supporters came to be part of the “General Assembly”. Certainly more media was there than ever before. Many if not all the original 19 arrested were back protesting.
As the clock ticked close to 6:30 p.m. and the crowd waiting for some sign of enforcement of the Governor’s order, word arrived to the protesters that no arrests would be made—an announcement that was met by a large cheer.
The lesson—elected officials can do the right thing even after making a bad decision. It applies to the Occupy movement and, for that matter, every decision. Just do what is right. The political world won’t end.