Tensions run high at Occupy D.C. site in anticipation of crackdown
Tensions ran high at an Occupy D.C. site Monday as protesters vowed to defy a federal crackdown on camping in a small park near the White House.
Signs like "Eviction? Bring It" and "You can’t evict an idea" were posted on tents at McPherson Square, as a Monday noon deadline passed without incident.
Sgt. David Schlosser of the U.S. Park Police said Monday that officers are going tent-to-tent explaining "our expectations for compliance with the regulations." But by early afternoon Monday, police had yet to move through the park to remove bedding.
Earlier, scores of protesters demonstrated before a large crowd of media and office workers, many in business suits who wandered by during their lunch break.
Protesters pulled a blue tarp with the words "Tent of Dreams" over a statue of Civil War Gen. James McPherson and chanted: "Get up, Get down, There’s a revolution in this town." One sign read: "I'm dreaming....of my First Amendment rights."
The protesters can maintain a 24-hour vigil in McPherson Square and another Occupy D.C. site at nearby Freedom Plaza, but cannot sleep there, according to the National Park Service, which has come under pressure from congressional Republicans to enforce the sleeping ban.
Occupy DC said in a statement that they will "peacefully resist this politically motivated attempt to suppress the free speech of the disenfranchised 99%."
Another sign on a tent read: "This is a workspace."
Washington officials have complained about a rat infestation at the McPherson Square encampment as well as more than $1.6-million cost to the city from the Occupy D.C. protest.
-- Richard Simon in Washington
Photo: A man walks in front of a sign advising of a noon deadline to remove camping materials from the Occupy D.C. encampment in McPherson Square on Monday. Credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images