- The Washington Times - Monday, December 5, 2011

Images of stoic police officers hauling away Occupy D.C. protesters were largely a memory Monday, as both sides tried to rebuild a cooperative — if cautious — co-existence following their 10-hour standoff Sunday.

The quiet, midday scene at McPherson Square was a far cry from the combative one that ended Sunday night with 31 protesters arrested on charges related to refusing to take down a modular, wooden structure deemed unsafe by a city building inspector.

“Something to consider is that the whole thing taking place at McPherson Square is not a permitted activity,” said Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser. “We support anybody’s rights to express their viewpoint and first amendment rights. But our number one concern is with public safety and that goes to what happened yesterday.”

By Monday morning, anxiety seemed to have dissipated. In Freedom Plaza, where a related protest has been encamped since October, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne performed a concert in a show of solidarity for the two movements. About 150 protesters, members of the media and passers by watched the concert — the upbeat scene a far cry from the tense standoff the day before.

Tempers began to rise mid-morning Sunday when Park Police discovered the roughly two-story structure in the southern half of the park. A building inspector deemed the structure unsafe, and police demanded it be dismantled.

Residents of the 2-month-old tent city said the structure was a purchased with donations and largely put together offsite.

“We’re looking at $1,400 worth of wood,” said Anthony Sluder, an occupier since Oct. 10. “It came out bigger and more robust than we thought it would.”

The structure was removed late Sunday night.

The demand started the day-long showdown that required the help of Metropolitan Police Department officers, mounted Park Police officers, a basket crane and an air cushion used as a safety precaution against protesters falling from the structure.

Sgt. Schlosser said he did not have a final cost for the day’s event, which included a shift change for Park Police officers.

Adrian Parsons, 29, one of the last protesters to be plucked from the roof by the crane didn’t think the horses were necessary but said the outcome “absolutely could have been worse.”

The last person was removed from the structure at 8:45 p.m. and was also charged with public urination and public indecency.

No pepper spray, Tasers, or stun guns were used, though gas masks could be seen looped around the legs of police officers.

Asked whether the scuffle over the shelter will have long term affects, Mr. Parsons said that remains to be seen.

“We might hear from [Metropolitan Police Chief] Cathy Lanier, but I hope they see us as peacefully as we saw them yesterday.



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