The area around the famous arch at the University of Georgia has been home to Occupy Athens protesters round-the-clock since Oct. 6.
Now UGA police are enforcing a long-standing policy that prevents demonstrators from rallying on the steps at the arch, and they cannot camp in the area.
“That’s gonna move us into the sidewalk and create more of an obstruction for the flow of traffic,” said Tobin Brogunier, a member of the Occupy Athens group’s public relations committee. “We’re going to have to negotiate now with Athens-Clarke County about our presence there.”
The group, which varies from five to 20 or more protesters at any given time, said it obtained permits from the university and the county to demonstrate near the arch 24 hours a day.
But UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson said the policy has always been that protestors must stay off the arch steps.
“There’s been no rule change. The rules have been the same,” Williamson said. “If anybody’s guilty of anything, it would be me and the fact that I didn’t enforce the rules completely in the beginning. And I explained to them, we make exceptions every day in law enforcement and I was trying to make some exceptions with them.”
Williamson said people have started to complain since Occupy Athens has been around the arch for two weeks.
Brogunier said the group has contacted lawyers who believe their constitutional rights are being limited.