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The GW Hatchet

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Occupy D.C. protesters linger past noon deadline

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brianna Gurciullo.

Occupy D.C. protesters held their ground Monday at McPherson Square, despite a deadline from the National Park Service to leave by noon or face eviction.

The tough talk from the U.S. Park Police came nearly a week after National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis defended his department’s decision to allow the protesters to camp in the square during a Jan. 26 hearing with the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Federal regulations prohibit camping – defined as sleeping or preparing to sleep in public spaces – at the park.

U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said enforcement activities consisted of reminding protesters of the anti-camping rule that forbids setting up tents, blankets and pillows.

“Ongoing enforcement has begun,” Schlosser said, adding that arrests would be managed on a case-by-case basis.

Responding to questions regarding the tasing of a protester by police at the camp Sunday, Schlosser said the case was pending review. He did not provide a timeline for police efforts at a similar, smaller camp at Freedom Plaza.

“Our end goal is to make certain that everyone can exercise their constitutionally protected rights,” Schlosser said.

Occupiers, playing music and chanting, showed few signs of preparations to pack up or move to an alternate location. Instead, they pitched a tarp – called their “tent of dreams” – over the square’s stature of Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson.

“McPherson is under attack. Stand up, fight back,” they chanted.

“We’re going to continue to hold our space and share our dreams,” Sara Shaw, a 24-year-old protester from California who has participated in Occupy D.C. since it took root in October, said.

The protesters passed out “The Declaration of Occupy D.C.,” listing their underlying principles.

“We are peaceably assembled at McPherson Square, practicing direct democracy on the doorstep of K Street, the epicenter of destructive corporate an governmental relationships,” the declaration read.

Occupier John Zangas called the makeshift tent over the McPherson statue Occupy D.C.’s “final act of defiance” and of civil disobedience.

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