Around 11am the United States Park Police inched into the Occupy D.C. Camp (located in downtown McPherson Square) on Sunday to push Occupy D.C. protesters to remove a wooden-frame structure that was to become a meeting house.
Park Police officers on horseback were joined by members of the local Metropolitan Police Department as they attempted to get protesters down who were sitting on rafters and beams of the structure.
Shortly before noon, officers began arresting members of the Occupy D.C. who stood in the way of officers.
One officer said that when they became aware of the structure, they responded by giving the demonstrators an one-hour to dismantle the two-story plywood structure. After the deadline passed officers on horseback cordoned off the area, and officers removed about a dozen protesters by 2pm, and were more than 20 demonstrators sitting inside the building and refuse to move.
This clash marks a rare battle between police officers and local demonstrators.
Returning citizens Jason White and Charles Benton, both from Montgomery County (in Maryland), believe the protestors brought this on by bringing in the massive structure.
“For the most part,” White said, “the city has been very kind to the protestors. They extended their permit and have pretty much left them alone.”
Benton added, “They crossed the line with the building.”
The Washington Post reports,
The arrests Sunday were peaceful and orderly, but some demonstrators clung to the wooden framework of the structure and refused to move, including at least two who climbed onto the roof and sat on the building’s ridge. Others sat inside the unfinished building and waited for police to enter and take them out. Some were handcuffed and put on the ground and later taken to waiting police vehicles.
Julie Pierce, a returning citizen and supporter of the Occupy Movement said, “This doesn’t add up. The city will allow the demostrators be there, but not allow them to have a structure like the meeting place. That’s crazy.”
Pierce also said she read the Post’s account of the incident and disagreed with those who think the protestors should move to Pakistan if they are unhappy with the way things are going on in the U.S.
“This is America. The people who are protesting have a right to do that. General George Washington did it when the British tried to tighten it’s grip during the Colonial Period,” she said. “If it weren’t for people challenging certain ways of thinking, those that oppose the demonstrators might not have that right.”
Law enforcement representatives told the demonstrators they would need a permit to erect such a building.
The Post further reported that demonstrators said the structure was meant to symbolize the need to house the homeless.
A few Occupy D.C. protesters built the frame of the potential meeting house off-site, and then brought it to the park.
The Occupy D.C. Camp is just a mere blocks from the White House.