AUGUSTA – People of many faiths marched to Capitol Park on Sunday to show support for the Occupy Augusta encampment on the eve of a court hearing to determine whether the group can continue to live in the park.

“The faithful group of people who have been encamped here may seem small, but they are part of a worldwide upswell of conviction that now is the time to turn the tide,” said the Rev. Maggie Edmondson of the Winthrop Center Friends Church, which is Quaker. “We cannot afford, financially, morally or spiritually to continue to prop up systems which are based on injustice.”

About 50 people walked from the Unitarian Universalist Community Church down State Street to Capitol Park. They sang songs and talked about the economic injustice that has driven thousands of people across the country to take up residence in parks and other public spaces as part of the Occupy movement. Those offering a show of support in Augusta included Quakers, Universalists, Catholics, Jews and Buddhists.

And while Sunday’s event was peaceful, Capitol Police on Saturday issued a summons to a 27-year-old Augusta man on a charge of criminal threatening. Jarody, who uses only one name and has been a candidate for City Council, is accused of threatening a man with a sledgehammer at the Occupy site on Thursday.

Last week, nine people affiliated with the Occupy Augusta movement were arrested when they refused to leave the grounds of the Blaine House. And today, a U.S. District Court judge in Bangor will consider a request from Occupy Augusta to be allowed to continue to live indefinitely in the park without a permit.

Capitol Police allowed the group to live in the park since Oct. 15 without a permit, but now believe the group is causing damage to the ground at the park, and that there has been little protest activity at the site. Two of those arrested have sued the state to argue that filling out a permit violates their First Amendment right to free speech.

Demi Colby, one of about 15 people who have lived at the site, said she’s not worried about today’s hearing.

“It’s my constitutional right to be here,” she said. “No matter what they say, it doesn’t go away.”

Sunday’s event was organized by the Rev. Carie Johnsen of the Universalist church in Augusta.

“I see the staggering effects every day of economic disparity,” she said. “They’ve awakened a complacent America.”

Rabbi Susan Bulba Carvutto of Temple Beth-El in Augusta said the Torah teaches the importance of economic justice.

“I’m grateful to the Occupiers for bringing this issue forward,” she said.

As the ceremony ended, the group lit small white candles while they sang a final song. Colby said the group was grateful for the show of support.

“To me personally, being very spiritual, it meant a lot,” she said.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

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