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Charges Dropped Against Occupy Columbia Protesters

Charges have been dropped against the 19 Occupy Columbia protesters arrested last month for camping out on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse. "I'm glad to see that someone in our state understands the First Amendment of our Constitution - the people's right to speak out about our broken political system," said Occupy protester Shaw Mitchell at a press conference in Columbia this afternoon. A lawsuit by the Occupy Columbia protesters is still pending and has been moved to federal court at the request of South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. The Occupiers argue they have a First Amendment right to camp at the statehouse despite a 6 p.m. curfew for people on the grounds without a permit. A local judge granted the protesters a ten-day restraining order to continue camping. That order expires Saturday. Occupy Columbia says its lawyers are negotiating with the governor's office for an extension, but Haley says the campers are damaging the lawn and has pledged to evict them.