Concerned citizens from all over South Carolina erected a “tent city” in Columbia’s Finlay Park near the Governor’s Mansion yesterday, until midnight last night, as a symbolic protest.
A sloppily painted sign reading “Sanfordville” got the point across–reminiscent of Hooverville–when jobless citizens in the ’30s sometimes had to live in tents and pointed their fingers at President Herbert Hoover.
It’s all in response to Governor Mark Sanford’s continued refusal to accept $700 million in federal stimulus money meant for public education and law enforcement.
Former Governor Jim Hodges paid a visit to the tent city. He said with a laugh, “I always sympathize with anyone sitting in the governor’s chair because I’ve been there before. But I think this is just one where governor Sanford just needs to admit he made a mistake in rejecting this money, because the money is available to help average people keep their jobs.”
Activist LacLan Macintosh says the worst case scenario isn’t pretty. (A police siren could be heard on a nearby street, adding to the drama of his statement.) “They’re going to have to lay off nearly 4,000 teachers and 700 prison guards. It would be a disaster for South Carolina, and we’re struggling enough as it is. And Governor Sanford unfortunately has decided to play politics with people’s livelihoods.”
Sanford asserted last week that there is more money in the budget than Senate budget writers have referenced.
Attorney Willam Hamilton of Mount Pleasant says senior citizens across the country remember tent cities. He says they were once a popular means of survival, and the reality of today’s economy is increasingly evident.
“Hobo jungles outside railroad yards…you see them described in the ‘Grapes of Wrath.’ But you don’t have to go back to the Depression to see a Hooverville. When we came to this park this morning about 8 a.m., we ran into homeless people who had camped here overnight, rolling up their bedrolls, who had slept in 40 degrees last night, under a bush, in South Carolina, today.”