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Occupiers prep for breakup of two D.C. camps
The agency posted fliers at both camps Friday saying the crackdown would begin Monday after nearly four months of not enforcing the federal “no-camping” rule. The fliers stated that by noon officers would confiscate camping equipment and possibly arrest violators.
He was among the remaining campers who discussed strategy Sunday amid such usual weekend activities as playing chess and checking out library books. The protesters also held a meeting about possible strategies but decline to discuss them. However, protester Sam Jewler said, “We’re not going to take this lying down.”
The fliers came days after Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis told congressional leaders that the agency would no longer tolerate camping in the federal park. Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said he was “pleased” that the concerns of local leaders had been heard and called the agency’s decision to enforce the law “appropriate and overdue.”
The fliers made clear that camping would no longer be allowed.
The Park Service “takes very seriously” its tradition of providing opportunities for 24-hour vigils backed by the First Amendment, said Bob Vogel, superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks.
The McPherson camp has made headlines for the actions of its residents, including protests at local businesses, blocking traffic along major D.C. streets and rallying on Capitol Hill. Recently, however, the McPherson camp has caught the attention of city leaders because of its rat population and unclean kitchen facilities, which recently were shut down by health officials.
Occupier Tracy Keith spent part of Sunday with a paintbrush, touching up newly drawn messages such as “no justice, no sleep.”
“Chances are, if they decide to take down the camp, it’s going to be at night,” he said. “The ball is in their court. I’m not going to do anything unpeaceful.” Mr. Keith warned, however, that the tasing of a camper late Sunday morning did not help the situation.
A video was posted on YouTube showing a female Park Service officer using a Taser on a young man who was then hauled away by several officers to a waiting vehicle. The National Park Service did not respond to a request for comment on the incident.
Occupier Steve Hartwell, 23, said the tension around McPherson Square has “escalated” since the tasing.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and the District’s nonvoting House member, urged protesters Sunday to respond to the scheduled enforcement “with the same respect and civility that NPS and the District have shown to Occupy D.C.” She also said resistance could hurt the movement’s attempt to be more than what some critics have labeled as “young people on an adventure.”
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About the Author
Meredith Somers is a Metro reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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