May 21–COLUMBIA, S.C. — For a second week, protestors were arrested in downtown Columbia on Monday after they blocked a busy intersection, demanding an end to poverty and low wages.
The protest, which started Monday at the African-American memorial outside of the S.C. State House, is part of a revival of the Poor People’s Campaign movement, which has spurred nonviolent protests nationwide.
The movement — originally started 50 years ago by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — is being led by clergy and activists demanding an end to racial inequality, war and poverty, while urging voters to cast ballots in this year’s elections.
Monday, the Columbia Police Department arrested about 18 men and women for unlawfully blocking the intersection of Main and Lady streets, down the street from the State House.
Unlike last Monday — when 16 protestors were arrested for blocking part of Sumter Street — Monday’s protest drew dozens of downtown workers and visitors to stop on the sidewalk and take photos.
Among those arrested Monday was artist Cathryn Davis Zommer, who called the protest “the most important movement of my life.”
“It’s based in the sacred and the creative, and it’s about justice,” the Charleston resident said. “We are claiming a moral revival here.”
Zommer was arrested for the first time last Monday but told reporters she was ready to be arrested, again.
“I am a white woman of privilege, and it is my responsibility to proactively make bold statements for justice,” she said. “It’s different for everyone.”
S.C. activists say they will gather at the State House each Monday — next week Tuesday because of Monday’s Memorial Day holiday — until June 23. Then, thousands are expected to rally in Washington, D.C.
For Columbia pastor Chuck Rhodes, Monday’s protest sparked memories of the civil rights movement.
“My commitment to human justice for the past 55 years remains,” said Rhodes, who was among those arrested Monday. “It’s not just about race but poverty, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues (and) health care. I believe we have to take a stand and say, ‘No, this is wrong.’ ”
As a theologian, Rhodes said his involvement Monday had a greater purpose.
“If I want to do the work that Jesus calls us to do, I’ve got to be here and do this.”
This article provided by NewsEdge.