Occupy protesters block K Street; 62 arrested

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A massive protest Wednesday along the K Street lobbying corridor in Washington resulted in 62 arrests, closing busy downtown streets and marking the second such mass arrest in the city in four days.

The protests, which were part of a five-day movement bringing people from across the country to rally against corporate and government greed, also appeared to mark a shift toward a more combative stance by protesters.

On Sunday, 31 protesters were arrested during a day-long standoff with police that started when the Occupy D.C. group refused to dismantle a wood-frame structure they brought overnight to the encampment on McPherson Square, just blocks from the White House.

The rain-sodden protest Wednesday along K Street Northwest, between 13th and 14th streets, began after 10 a.m. and blocked traffic through the afternoon.

Police warned drivers to avoid the area because roughly two-dozen protesters had lain down shoulder to shoulder in the street.

Occupy DC protesters are arrested as they block the intersection of 14th St. NW and K St. NW in Washington, D.C. on December 7, 2011. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/ The Washington Times)

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Occupy DC protesters are arrested as they block the intersection of 14th ... more >

“The people of D.C. might complain about the traffic disruption but when you realistically look at what we stand for, a little traffic pales in comparison to what we’re trying to fight,” said Robert Brune, an Occupy D.C. member. “Here on K Street, we want money to be better regulated.”

One person was arrested in connection with an assault on a police officer. The other 61 were charged with obstructing a public highway, said Officer Hugh Carew, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department. According to the District’s code, the charge is punishable by a $100 to $250 fine.

The march down K Street began when members of the Occupy D.C. camp joined hundreds of others, including members of the Service Employees International Union, to march on the Podesta Group lobbying firm, on G Street Northwest.

A press release issued by city police referred to the march as an SEIU-related event, which Mr. Brune said personally bothered him. He said the Occupy movement has been benefiting from SEIU’s assistance but keeps the major labor union “at arm’s length.”

As officers warned the people lying in the street several times that they were obstructing traffic, some protestors shouted down their orders and began criticizing the officers.

Occupy D.C. protester Alec Kerestesi said he did not agree with disrespecting the officers, especially when protesters consider the officers part of what they called the “99 percent,” not the “1 percent” whom they say control most of the country’s wealth and should share with others.

“If you look at it, the cops are standing in the rain just like us,” Mr. Kerestesi said. “Regardless of what’s said, we’re both stuck in the rain and both probably going to get sick.”

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