Occupy Raleigh protestors costing taxpayers

Occupy Raleigh protestors

October 28, 2011 2:56:29 PM PDT
Raleigh police say the Occupy Raleigh movement is costing taxpayers about $1,500 a day.

Since the sit-in at the State Capitol began a few weeks ago, police have been putting in overtimes and the courts have been busier.

Thursday night was the first major incident since Raleigh police arrested 20 people on October 15, and protestors say it should never have happened.

"They asked us to clean up, we cleaned up," protestor Joseph Huberman said. "Then they came back and said you can't sit down, and they keep raising the bar."

The price tag of the 24-7 protest continues to rise. Raleigh police say they spent more than $26,000 alone on the weekend of October 15. Each day since has cost city taxpayers another $1,500, bringing the total price tag to more than $44,000 and that just for the Raleigh Police Department.

Thursday's arrests were by the Capitol Police.

"People are really starting to stay," said Mitch Kokai, John Locke Foundation."This is adding up."

Kokai says protestors' rights to speech stops when it starts costing taxpayers' money.

"The right to free speech gives other people the duty not to infringe upon your right to free speech," Kokai said. "It doesn't mean that they have the duty to pay for your free speech."

However, protestors say it's just part of the package -- a built in cost of freedom.

"Democracy isn't cheap," Huberman said. "There's a cost to having a democratic government."

Occupy Raleigh protestors say they are ready to stay in front of the capitol through winter. Friday members spent the day passing out fliers around town letting people know about the next big planned event, which is scheduled for Saturday at the Capitol from noon to 3 p.m.

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