How do Occupiers eat? Here’s how…

Just in case you, like our governor, are sitting up nights wondering whether how the Occupy Columbia protesters are getting nutritious, sanitary meals, here’s an explanation from Maris Burton, a member of the Occupy Columbia Food Committee:

Dear Budget and Control Board members,

It has come to my attention that the storage and cooking of food is being used in an attempt to demonstrate the need for emergency regulations to protect the public health.

I have been involved with supplying and arranging delivery of food to the Occupiers.  I have taken part in several discussions regarding how to safely handle food and how to provide nutritious cooked meals. People are not living on the State House grounds; they are Occupying the grounds as a form of protest.

Since the eviction from the State House grounds on Nov 16, 2011 and the subsequent temporary restraining order that allowed the use of tents and a 24 hour occupation as part of our right to free speech, we agreed to lessen our footprint and to focus on having non-perishable items such as individually wrapped snack packets of crackers and nutrition bars, and water available to the Occupiers.

Dry goods are kept in a sealable plastic tub, not accessible to wildlife. We have a rotating food schedule of volunteers who prepare hot meals off site and bring them to the State house. We have one cooler on site that is kept supplied with ice and sometimes contains yogurts, cheese or packaged sandwich meats or creamer for coffee.  Food is brought at set times and cleared away promptly.

Any used dishes are collected each evening and washed at a volunteer’s home and then returned to the State House.

There have been no incidents of food related illnesses, and there has not been a problem with any wildlife coming near the food.

I welcome any questions you may have.

Such things are mildly interesting to me, because of my own strong aversion to living in the open. I’ve always thought, for instance, that the hardest part about serving in combat infantry would be the bivouac thing. Storm Omaha Beach, with the Germans having presighted every square inch and ready to rain lead and high explosives on me? Yeah, OK, just as long as I get a warm dinner and comfortable, dry bed that night, preferably back in England. To me, the real horror stories of war are those about the defenders of Bastogne getting frozen, literally, into their foxholes every night for a month during the coldest winter in Europe in a century, or the extremely gross conditions on Okinawa, living in a muddy soup of human waste and decomposing bodies. The fighting, by comparison, seems far less objectionable.

But I see even optimal outdoor living conditions to be less than desirable. I am not what you’d ever call a Happy Camper. By definition: If I’m camping, I’m not happy. Comparatively, anyway.

So it’s interesting to know how they’re managing over at the State House.

23 thoughts on “How do Occupiers eat? Here’s how…

  1. Brad

    Perhaps the most interesting part of the message is this enigmatic assertion: “People are not living on the State House grounds; they are Occupying the grounds as a form of protest.”

  2. Brad

    Speaking of camping, here’s an additional statement from Tim Liszewski with Occupy Columbia:

    Members of the Budget and Control Board:

    I understand that you are meeting today to discuss laws and regulations designed specifically to target Occupy Columbia. Let me say up front:  we are not camping.  We have not decided to live on the State House grounds.

    We are engaged in a time-honored right accorded all citizens.  It is the right to peaceably assemble and petition our government for redress of our grievances.  The Occupation IS the protest.  So long as moneyed interests occupy our government, we will Occupy the State House grounds. Whether you agree with our message or not, whether you like the manner in which we demonstrate or not, the Occupation is symbolic conduct and is thus protected as free speech.

    Further, I would point out that there is no emergency confronting this board.  Putting aside the fact that the state has had 22 years to come up with regulations, this administration has had 67 days of this Occupation in which to decide on regulations.  Only now that a court has decided in Occupy Columbia’s favor is this board meeting on such a regulation.  I can draw no other conclusion than this meeting is directed solely to punish Occupy Columbia, which flies directly in the face of protecting free speech rights for ALL our citizens.

    Thank you for hearing my opinion.  And know that I will continue to assert my First Amendment rights – regardless of any regulations decided upon today.

  3. Bryan Caskey

    As an Eagle Scout, I’m not sure I would call what they are doing “camping”. They aren’t exactly in the woods, they’re using running water, they’re being constantly resupplied and supported by others who are using all the modern conveniences of urban life, and they’re probably heading over to Starbucks every once in awhile.

    I’m guessing the only “wildlife” they see are squirrels, a possum, and MAYBE a raccoon. The wildlife from the Vista may be more interesting, though.

    As far as “living” being different from “Occupying”…it sounds very lawyerly to me – being a distinction without a difference. In any event, what they are doing…whatever you want to call it is certainly closer to “living” than to “camping”.

    On a totally different subject, if you want to read about harsh living conditions, read Eugene Sledge’s “With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa”. It’s amazing what the Marines went through in the Pacific Theater.

  4. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Bryan Caskey–Not to get all lawyerly on you, but wouldn’t you say that people “live” where they reside, whether permanently or temporarily, and that a “residence” is a fairly well defined legal concept? The Occupiers do not “reside” on the State House grounds. Their presence, while long, is nonetheless clearly transient. They do not receive mail there, for example.
    it is most certainly not their legal domicile.

  5. Bryan Caskey

    Only another lawyer would bring “domicile” to the party; Well played. I think a person can have more than one residence, but only one domicile.

    I would also certainly say the Occupiers reside at the Statehouse – it’s where they are. I think they would feel ineffective if you said otherwise.

    Is their presence clearly transient? Seems to me that they could protest indefinitely. As for the mail, I’m going to suggest that OccupyColumbia set up a mailbox on the corner of Gervais and Assembly.

  6. Silence

    I thought we settled this. They are protesting, which is a legal exercise of their 1st amendment rights and responsibilities. They are also camping there, which is to say they are sleeping in tents on the statehouse grounds overnight, which is technically a violation of the law.

    Kathryn and I disagree about the legality of the camping. I maintain that one can fully exercise the 1st amendment without the camping. The solicitor, chief of police, city attorney, mayor, city manager, etc. etc. agree with Kathryn.

    Personally, I think that going down this road sets a dangerous precedent. We have ordinances against panhandling, loitering, begging, and specifically urban camping. If you let the “Occupy” folks set up camp and protest, how can you enforce the same ordinances against vagrants, hobos, wine-o’s, tramps and and bums camping out and exercising their free speech right to beg on other public property? It sounds like very selective enforcement to me, and potentially a civil rights issue.

    Someone should get a writ of mandamus to make the local constabulary do their job and enforce the laws that are on the books.

  7. `Kathryn Fenner

    You don’t reside where ever you happen to be–I’m going to spend a week at Kiawah soon, but no reasonable person would say I will reside there. I spent 3 weeks living in a apartment in Canada, but did not reside there, and the summer before that 5 weeks in an apartment in Chicago.I have not resided in Chicago since 1991. I had an extended visit.

    In none of these cases was there any symbolic speech element involved, either. The Occupiers reside where they get their mail, pay utilities, other indicia of residence. They are making a political statement by being physically present on the State House grounds for an extended period of nonviolent protest.

    I bet you could not get a court to say they were served if someone left papers with a person 18 years or older who happened to be on the State House grounds, do you think?

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Silence–Ahhh, but there aren’t applicable laws on the books. You can only get a writ of mandamus if there are clearly applicable laws, and no court injunction staying action.

  9. `Kathryn Fenner

    Also, a writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy. It’s not even clear what “emergency” permitted the BCB to meet.

  10. Doug Ross

    “In none of these cases was there any symbolic speech element involved, either”

    But can I assume you paid/will pay for your accomodations in Canada and Kiawah?

    What we need is a group of people willing to camp out in opposition to the Occupiers. That would make things interesting.

  11. Brad

    I only have one request. If we’re going to talk about a “writ of mandamus,” I want everyone to say it with proper respect for Latin, even if only in your heads.

    No saying, or thinking, “man-DAY-muss,” OK?

    Thank you.

  12. `Kathryn Fenner

    Actually, we were guests of the Canadian government via its support for the Institute for Quantum Computing, at the University of Waterloo–what Innovista could be.

    @ Steven — a writ of mandamus is an extraordinary remedy where a court orders an elected official to perform execute some legally required task. It figured prominently in one of the first cases you read in law school, Marbury v Madison.

    This case is the basis for judicial review, which Newt Gingrich thinks (and I use that word cautiously) should be over-ridden whenever a judge does something that Newt doesn’t like (it was cloaked in more refined terms, but that’s what it boiled down to).

  13. `Kathryn Fenner

    & @ Doug –Sure, you think you can line up any of the 1% or peeps in support of the 1% willing to show up for even an hour on a sunny afternoon?

  14. Silence

    @ Kathryn,
    I’m pretty sure I quoted the state law that gives the city police jurisdiction on the grounds of the state capitol. I think I also included the appropriate citations from the city’s municipal code that outlaw urban camping. While I understand that the camping is secondary to the free speech, I’m not sure how that matters in this case.
    If the protesters are illegally parked while protesting, do they not get parking tickets?

  15. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Brad– My favorite law professor at Emory, the late lamented Donald Fyr (“Fear”), used to crack up people with his discussion of a Preemah Fack-ee-ay case. Maybe so, but I can easily recite the elements of trespass de bonis asportatis to this day.

    I think if you check the You Tube recordings, the founding fathers said “Mandaymus.” Many were from Virginia, you know.

  16. Ralph Hightower

    One thing that the Budget and Control Board did by banning the preparation of food on State House grounds is prohibit the Department of Agriculture from sponsoring South Carolina grown produce. Sometime ago, the Dept. of Agriculture had a food promotion drive where meals were prepared for people that featured South Carolina produce. Tents, tables, seating were provided.

    In their haste to ban Occupy Columbia, they have banned state agencies from promoting South Carolina produce.

  17. Ralph Hightower

    I’ll let the lawyers, Fenner and Caskey, and the tax authorities duke it on domicile.

    In 1994, I spent nine months in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I rented an apartment there simply because the commute would’ve killed me. I never transferred my legal residence from South Carolina because I intended to return home to South Carolina; no domestic dispute or separation from my wife, Iowa was the only place for computer programming jobs.

    I did have to file a multi-state tax return with Iowa and South Carolina.

    I put “itinerant” in the occupation field on the Iowa tax return.

  18. `Kathryn Fenner

    @ Ralph– a perfect example of the principle that “domicile” — legal residence– attaches with physical presence and the intent to remain indefinitely. You did not intend to remain in Iowa, so you never lost your SC domicile. I attended law school in GA, but retained my SC residence. When I took a permanent job in Chicago, my domicile moved to Illinois.

Comments are closed.