ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (WCBD) – Some Isle of Palms residents are expected to “declare independence” from South Carolina as they look to form “The Palm Republic.”
It stems from when a small group opposed Gov. Henry McMaster’s decision to close the beaches at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
The effort, by former and current leaders on the Isle of Palms, including former mayor Jimmy Carroll, said the decision is to protect what they call illegal action from the state. Those issues include beach parking and other traffic-related issues by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
“The Palm Republic will exist as a free and sovereign republic that re-establishes Home Rule, which was unilaterally and illegally stripped from the Isle of Palms upon the passage of S. 40 in 2021,” organizers said Wednesday.
The Palm Republic is modeled after the Conch Republic along the Florida Keys.
While organizers said becoming a republic would give the island self-governance, it would not include seceding from South Carolina.
“This tongue-in-cheek protest will have no binding legal authority, the founding fathers and mothers of the Palm Republic hope to highlight the tyrannical and unconstitutional actions taken by state legislators, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, and the governor stripping the Isle of Palms of its basic rights to govern itself,” said organizers. “The patriots of the Palm Republic are fun-loving people and include humor and drink in dealing with a very serious violation of their constitutionally guaranteed right to govern our Island.”
Former IOP Mayor Jimmy Carroll would serve as “His Highness, The Grand Potentate of All That is Salty, His Excellency, The Right Reverend.”
“This is about our legislature overstepping their authority to pander for votes,” said Carroll. “In doing so, they have violated the state constitution and the rule of law. If this is allowed to stand, the door is wide open for state senators to do the same thing statewide. They will take away our constitutional rights to buy the votes of small but outspoken radical groups. Behind closed doors, our politicians laugh at the Constitution and will do whatever it takes to stay in power.”
Blair Hahn, current city council member of the Isle of Palms, will serve as attorney general, also known as “His Beaudacious Highness, Admiral and Grand Ruler of All Seas Less than 1 Fathom.”
“I cannot state strongly enough the gravity of the violations of our Constitution and Rule of Law by the powers that be in Columbia,” Hahn said. “We are establishing the Palm Republic to stand up to politicians in Columbia and take back our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.”
The signing of the Declaration of Independence for the Palm Republic will take place on May 13 on the back deck stage of the Windjammer, a location that will serve as the Capitol Building of the Palm Republic.
Current Mayor Phillip Pounds sent News 2 a statement last month that reads quote, “The City of Isle of Palms is in no way involved with the Palm Republic. Our Council and I continue to be focused on collaborative relationships and seeking solutions that benefit residents and visitors.”
Pounds said council voted on April 26 to have a constitutional attorney explore the legality of S. 40.
Editor’s Note: The effort is believed to be half a joke and half an effort to bring attention to the city’s frustrations with the state’s changes to beach parking regulations.