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Judge tells officials to give notice before clearing Occupy D.C.

January 31, 2012 | 12:08 pm

A federal judge has given protesters at the Occupy D.C. site some breathing room, ruling Tuesday that authorities must give notice before trying to evict demonstrators from a downtown park in the nation’s capital.

The widely reported decision by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg came as the National Park Service has begun enforcing a camping ban at one of the few remaining Occupy sites in the nation. At the Occupy demonstrations' peak last fall, tens of thousands of protesters around the country occupied public areas to protest income inequality, corporate greed, rising debts and government shortcomings in dealing with a fractured economy.

The Washington, D.C., protest is centered at McPherson Square, blocks from the White House.

Earlier Tuesday, officials from the National Park Service arrived at the protest site to ask that the large blue tarpaulin draped over the statue of Civil War Gen. James McPherson and known as the “tent of dreams,” be taken down. They also asked that protesters comply with new regulations prohibiting bedding at the site, according to a posting at the Occupy website.

Protesters refused and called for a General Assembly of demonstrators to discuss their next step. Government officials have said there is no timetable for clearing the area, also known as Freedom Square.

Under the latest court ruling, authorities cannot seize tents unless there are violations of law or the anti-camping regulations. Nor can the park service close the protest site without prior notification, unless there is an emergency.


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Tensions run high at Occupy D.C. site in anticipation of crackdown

-- Michael Muskal

Photo: A "V for Vendetta" Guy Fawkes mask is set on the statue of Civil War Gen. James B. McPherson at McPherson Square by Occupy D.C. Police on Tuesday ordered protesters to pull down a "tent of dreams" it had erected the day before. Credit:  Jewel Samad / AFP/Getty Images