- The Washington Times - Friday, December 16, 2011

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray sent a letter to the National Park Service on Friday demanding “full and complete reimbursement” of the $1.6 million incurred by hosting protest camps on federal land at Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square.

“Our citizens cannot be expected to pay for the consequences of a decision in which they have no say,” Mr. Gray said in the letter.

While many cities across the globe have seen protesters take to the streets, the Occupy groups have camped on federally controlled land since October and racked up city costs in overtime, public sanitation and park and street maintenance and cleaning, Mr. Gray said in his letter to Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

“In neither case was the District Government consulted on the legality or appropriateness of long-term protestors inhabiting these respective locations,” the mayor said.

Mr. Gray said he has designated City Administrator Allen Lew “as the point of contact for the District until the payment issue has been resolved.”

National Park Services spokesman Bill Line said he had not seen the letter as of Friday afternoon, so he could not comment on it.

Mr. Gray’s demand arrives less than a week after Rep. Darrell E. Issa, California Republican, sent a letter on Dec. 12 to the Department of the Interior asking why the Occupy D.C. protest has been allowed to continue.

As the seat of the federal government, the District is routinely reimbursed for costs it incurs by hosting protests, marches and rallies on a range of national issues.

The Occupy movement began on Wall Street in New York City and spread to cities across the country, meaning it is not a D.C.-specific event, such as the protests that accompany the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Nonetheless, the mayor’s office has said the federal government should take on the financial burden because it has authority over the camps’ land.

Mr. Gray told NewsChannel 8 on Thursday there is increasing frustration with the protesters because there has been no articulation “of exactly what the issues are and exactly what it is the people want as an outcome.”

The Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Park Police have thus far taken a relatively hands-off approach to the occupiers, who have taken to the streets to denounce corporate greed.

Although there have been arrests, the city has not engaged in the type of evictions and crackdowns taken against camps in other cities, citing the right to exercise free speech in the nation’s capital.

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