- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 2, 2012

A federal judge on Thursday denied a request by members of the Occupy D.C. protest for an injunction that would prevent police from seizing their tents and evicting them from camps they have established in city parks.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said that the two protesters from the Occupy D.C. encampment in McPherson Square who sought the legal action “have not shown any imminent actual injury that threatens their tents” and that the prospect of evictions from the square “remains too hypothetical for the court to address.”

A lawyer representing the Department of the Interior - which oversees the National Park Service and the U.S. Park Police - argued in court on Tuesday that the Park Service has given demonstrators ample time to prepare for police actions. Authorities most recently announced 72 hours in advance that Park Police would be enforcing anti-camping rules in both McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, the site of a similar protest blocks away on Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest.

D.C. attorney Jeffrey Light, who represents two Occupy D.C. members who sought the injunction, remained positive despite the judge’s ruling.

“I don’t think the government will try and do anything improper,” he said.

Many observers assumed enforcement of the no-camping rules would mean the end of the protest in the District, but enforcement began Monday with little conflict. A “tent of dreams” that was draped over the statue of Civil War Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson by protesters four days ago remained in place as of nightfall Thursday.

As for occupiers’ complaints that some of their belongings had already been ruined by police, Judge Boasberg said those claims “remain murky” and pointed to Park Service guidelines that allow owners to reclaim their property as long as it is not deemed a biohazard or trash.

• Meredith Somers can be reached at msomers@washingtontimes.com.

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