By Linda Bentley - Sonoran News
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A jury found Terry Funderburk not guilty on Feb. 21, 2008 and Funderburk said, “It was like a thousand pounds had been lifted off my chest.”
The 52-year old roofer, who became known nationally as “The Lone Protester,” was arrested on July 16, 2007 on a disorderly conduct charge for protesting in front of a home in the ritzy Woodcreek Farms subdivision in Columbia, as illegal alien workers were installing copper roofing.
Funderburk was carrying a sign that read, “Illegals Quit Stealing Our Jobs!!!” as he protested up and down the street in front of Larry McDaniel’s home.
McDaniel called Columbia Police, who arrested Funderburk, and in his court testimony McDaniel claimed Funderburk was loud, impeding traffic and swearing.”
Funderburk admits calling McDaniel a “cheap bastard” to his face when he was outside his home, but aside from that, Funderburk said he was simply protesting with his sign, waving at motorists, many of which he said gave him a thumbs up.
After spending a night in jail, Funderburk began posting his story on conservative and antiillegal immigration blogs using the name “The Lone Protester” to post messages.
After Funderburk’s story was featured on CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” last August, he gained attention nationwide.
Funderburk specializes in copper roofing, a business he operates with his son and another employee.
When Funderburk bid on McDaniel’s copper roof work, he said McDaniel told him he had “international roofers” working for him that were getting paid $5 to $6 per hour, so Funderburk better sharpen his pencil if he wanted the job.
Funderburk said those were the wages top roofers earned back in the 60s and 70s.
So, when Funderburk saw illegal aliens doing the copper work on McDaniel’s roof, he’d finally had it.
Funderburk went home and told his wife he was probably going to jail, made a sign, and told his son to grab his camera, park across the street and take pictures because he was probably going to be arrested.
And arrested he was. Police officers handcuffed Funderburk in the middle of the street. They eventually placed him in a squad car and hauled him off to jail.
His son documented the entire ordeal.
Funderburk’s trial was delayed time and time again. Prosecutors even attempted to double up on the charges against Funderburk in an effort to coerce a plea agreement out of him.
It was all to no avail, though, as Funderburk steadfastly denied violating any laws during his protest and refused to plead guilty to a crime he did not commit.
Funderburk says the entire state of South Carolina is a sanctuary zone for illegal aliens and the employers that hire them.
In November, Kentuckians For Immigration Reform & Enforcement posted an article on its website by Funderburk, where he wrote, “Our home and commercial construction industry is flooded with illegals and their criminal employers and nothing is ever done to correct the problem. In fact, our politicians and law enforcement professionals here practice the art of killing the messenger instead of alleviating the problem by simply enforcing our laws.”
Funderburk went on to say the June 27 edition of the state newspaper quoted Jo Dell Pickens, a Columbia roofing contractor, as saying, “I employ 22 illegal aliens; they are a fact of life in the roofing industry here in Columbia,” and asked, “Has she been arrested for her crime? That was six months ago and she has yet to be arrested and tried. No, she gets a free pass from her enablers.”
While Funderburk insists his protest and subsequent arrest were directly related to illegal immigration, Columbia Municipal Court Judge Steven Dennis tried to keep the court focused on the issue at hand and said, “I’m not trying illegal immigration. I’m not trying the First Amendment. I’m trying a disorderly-conduct case.”
When the jury came back with their verdict of “not guilty,” Funderburk’s expression of jubilation, “I’ve been vindicated,” resonated across the country.