Jessica Dugan says she lost her voice chanting last night as police arrested at least eight fellow members of the Occupy Charleston protest group in Marion Square. Others have reported as many as 10 arrests overnight. Police have not released an official statement or incident report about the arrests.
Occupy Charleston met with Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. on Monday about the possibility of an open-ended occupation of the downtown park, but Riley told them he was having none of it. Police showed up at the first night's occupation around 2 a.m. Tuesday but did not make arrests. Last night, dozens of officers walked into the park around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Video footage from the scene shows police forming a human barricade, stopping protesters from re-entering the park at the southwest corner near the fountain. Dugan says she and others had left art supplies and poster materials in the park and wanted to go back to retrieve them, but that officers cut them off every time they made a move toward the park. "They were kind of trying to trick us into getting arrested," she says.
So, rather than re-enter the park, she and the remaining occupiers occupied the sidewalk, lobbing call-and-response slogans at the officers ranging from "All day! All night! Occupy! Wall Street!" to a simple "Shame! Shame! Shame!"
The arrestees will have a bond hearing at 1 p.m. today. Dugan says five of the people arrested are military veterans.