Protests Scheduled for Debate Day
The nation's eyes will be fixed on South Carolina on Saturday for the Republican debate, but progressive organizers are hoping to siphon some of the attention.
As Wofford College continues to prepare for Saturday's debate between the Republican hopefuls for the presidency, at least two demonstrations are being organized to coincide with the GOP event.
The debate, which Wofford officials say is the first national event of its kind ever held at the college, is expected to feature all of the GOP presidential candidates, and will begin at 8 p.m. And while the National Journal/CBS News debate will be the focus in Spartanburg this weekend, organizers of the more progressive persuasion will be doing their best to make their voices heard as well.
Russell Bannan, coordinator for the South Carolina AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), confirmed that his organization, in conjunction with Jobs With Justice and the South Carolina Progressive Network, will hold a "Workers Rights Rally and March" at Morgan Square in downtown Spartanburg on Saturday.
The event, which will begin at 6 p.m., will focus on workers' rights, social injustice and freedom of speech and association, Brannan said. The rally's location, Morgan Square, is the site of a recent Occupy Wall Street event that drew dozens of protestors last month.
"People have the rights in this country to democratically organize within their workplaces to advocate for safety, benefits, and things like that," Bannan told Patch Thursday.
"The GOP right now has been on a non-stop attack, especially in South Carolina, against organized labor's rights and workers' rights to collectively bargain."
The inability to form unions in South Carolina, likewise, will be a key focus during the event. The First Amendment, Bannan said, promises not only freedom if speech, but freedom to associate with others in any way an individual pleases.
"In this state, the GOP especially is trying to attack workers for trying to use their freedom of association for trying to join a union," Bannan said. "We don't believe anyone has the right to tell us what organizations we can and cannot join."
Meanwhile, some of the same activists who helped organize the "Occupy" protest in Spartanburg are also planning a debate day demonstration, this time just across the street from the college.
Deborah Morrow, organizer of the event, confirmed the group had obtained a permit from the Spartanburg Police Department to demonstrate on the opposite side of North Church Street starting at the intersection of Evins and Church streets.
She's encouraging all participants to bring signs that voice their displeasure at any aspect of the Republican agenda, from de-funding of education, to corporate greed. That protest will begin at 4 p.m.
"We have people coming from all over the state, and hopefully this will be a statement that shows the national audience that not all of South Carolina is right wing," Morrow told Patch.
Bannan said he expects a large group of protestors, numbering in the hundreds, to converge on Spartanburg on Saturday, despite South Carolina's overwhelmingly conservative political leanings.
"I think people will be surprised," Bannan said.