January 30th, 2012–The Occupation of DC has been given orders by the National Park Services to remove all camping implements from Freedom Plaza and McPherson square, the two areas of Washington D.C. Inhabited by members of the Occupy Wall St. movement.
According to the Washington Post, the Director of the National Park Services Jonathan Jarvis promised to begin enforcement anti-camping regulations on January 24, but added, “we are not evicting the Occupiers under any circumstances, unless there is an emergency.”
Protesters at both camps have refused orders to remove camping, bedding and cooking supplies. In response to the increase in police presence, protesters at McPherson Square drapped a blue tarp over a statue of General James B. McPherson, creating a makeshift tent-like structure. Demonstrators have refused to remove the tarp, despite police orders.
On Sunday, the McPherson park was the scene of an incident involving at least 3 police officers and one of the occupiers. The occupier, who goes by the name of ‘Lash’ was subdued with a taser after police say he became aggressive. The individual’s fellow occupiers claim the use of electric shock was unnecessary. The police had apparently entered the occupier’s tent to hand him a flier notifying Occupy DC of a deadline on removing the tents. ‘Lash’ was released the next day, minus the polar bear pajamas he had been arrested in.
Over 20,000 people have signed an online petition at SaveOccupyDC.org, which reads:
“As Americans, we call on you to stop buckling to political pressure and to respect free speech on federal land. Tasing innocent people is repulsive — and telling Americans they have a right to protest 24 hours a day, but don’t have the ability to sleep, is dishonest and wrong. First Amendment rights trump camping rules. Leave Occupy DC alone.”
As of 7:00pm the Occupy DC General Assembly was still formed and reviewing their procedures. Many expressed concerns that the police would move in as soon as the media vans vacated the area.
When discussing the possible eviction of Occupy DC, the National Park Services stated that the 1st Amendment rights of the Occupy movement must be protected and that includes the right to a 24 hour vigil demonstration.