Entries in Occupy DC (5)


Pressure Builds on Occupy DC Encampments

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- The government must give Occupy D.C. protesters 24 hours notice if it intends to close encampments at two city parks, a federal court ruled Tuesday, as pressure mounts on one of the last intact major camps for the Occupy movement in the United States.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg told representatives of Occupy on Tuesday that the demonstrators would have a chance to contest any order for eviction before it takes effect.

A National Parks Service deadline for the protesters based in Washington’s McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza to stop “camping” in the parks passed Monday. Government regulations define camping as using park land for “living accommodation purposes such as sleeping.”

The two sites fall under the jurisdiction of the NPS, which was pressed on the subject during a meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week.

Demonstrators can remain on 24-hour vigils at the sites, under the right to assembly given by the First Amendment, but there can be no sleeping. Tents, many of which have slogans of the movement painted on them, are allowed to remain as symbols of political protest, but their flaps must be open, allowing clear visibility of the interior. Any equipment seen as evidence of residence -- such as sleeping bags, travel-sized toiletries, pillows, etc. -- must also go.

In addition, protesters must remove a large tarp erected Monday over a statue of Civil War Gen. James McPherson. The makeshift shelter has been dubbed the “Tent of Dreams.”

The park service has retained the right to evict the protesters completely in the event of emergency or urgent health concern.

A number of the parks’ inhabitants have complied voluntarily with the order, but some told ABC News they would remain, with or without approval.

“This is not camping,” one protester said. “This is free speech. We have no other way to reach our government.”

Given the restrictions, Occupy D.C. protesters are mulling their next move. At an emergency general assembly meeting Tuesday the movement decided they would not remove the McPherson statue tarp but would step aside if law enforcement removed it themselves. Some hope the gesture could lead to leniency on the sleeping restrictions.

For two days Park Service Police have led quiet inspections of the camps without incident.

Park police say enforcement of the regulation is in effect but have declined to discuss a timeline for eviction. Officials told McPherson Square residents Tuesday that those who violate the rule will be subject to arrest.

Protesters have expressed fear of a confrontation with police since the camping regulations were first announced Friday.

Occupy D.C. has inhabited the city for four months on its platform against perceived corporate privilege and government corruption. But their long residence has raised sanitation concerns with some city officials. Washington Mayor Vincent Gray and health inspectors have cited increased rat populations at the movement’s primary site of McPherson Square, mere blocks from the White House.

Many in each camp’s population are homeless. The majority of middle-class protesters live and sleep elsewhere, coming to the parks on an as-needed basis.

Demonstrators planted a small tree Monday evening in McPherson Square. The “Occutree” is supposed to symbolize their commitment to the environment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Smoke Bomb’ Thrown at White House While Obamas Dine Out

Getty Images/Comstock Images(WASHINGTON) -- While the Obamas Tuesday evening were dining at one of D.C.’s finest steak houses, Occupy D.C. protesters gathered in front of the White House and, for a couple of hours, drew dozens of police cars to Pennsylvania Avenue and briefly kept the press on lockdown inside the building.

The cause of the commotion is unclear but it may have been a smoke bomb or firecracker hurled by a protester over the White House fence from Pennsylvania Avenue.

When the press covering the president’s dinner trip Tuesday evening returned to the White House they were then told they could not leave the building. The Secret Service told the reporters they were keeping them there while they investigated a “smoke bomb” that protesters may have thrown over the fence and onto the White House grounds.

Shortly after 8pm, @OccupyDCKst tweeted, “Someone just chucked something over the fence, it’s on fire. People are saying its a firecracker.”

U.S. Secret Service just told the ABC affiliate in Washington, WJLA, that it was indeed a smoke bomb. The Obamas weren’t at the White House at the time of the incident.

For some time Tuesday evening, the Secret Service had shut down Pennsylvania Avenue --  beyond the normal restrictions in that part of Pennsylvania Avenue is limited to pedestrians only.

The Obama’s evening out was in celebration of first lady Michelle Obama’s 48th birthday. She was celebrating Tuesday night with her husband and close friends at BLT Steak in Washington, just blocks from the White House.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cornel West Arrested at Supreme Court Protest

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Author, professor and social activist Cornel West was arrested on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. while taking part in a group protest against corporate influence in politics.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman said that 19 demonstrators were arrested Sunday afternoon when they refused to leave the grounds of the court. West was reportedly among those arrested.

Prior to joining in the protest on the steps of the Supreme Court, West attended the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

A message was posted to West’s official Twitter account around 6:30 p.m. Sunday assuring followers that West was doing well.

“Thanks ALL for your concern. Dr. West is ok. He’ll share his thoughts from today very soon. Stay tuned! #OccupyDC -- Bro,” the Tweet said.

A photo of West, in which he is seen holding a sign quoting Gandhi reading, “Poverty is the worst form of violence” was posted to his Twitter feed late Sunday night.

In addition to teaching at Princeton University, West has written books including Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and often appears as a pundit on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Occupy Wall Street' Protesters Settle in for Long Haul

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Occupy Wall Street protesters might be struggling to find a unified message but there appears to be little doubt about their growing resolve as the movement settles in beyond the small lower Manhattan Park where it began nearly four weeks ago.

"There is something that's bubbling, something that's happening, there is a youthful involvement here," a New York activist said of protests that have spread to cities across the country such as Seattle, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Austin, Texas.  "There is an energy that might lead to something big. I'm hopeful."

The Occupy Cleveland group pushed its cause this weekend in Ohio where protesters marched throughout the city.  Participant Lacey Smalldon, who joined a march to Cleveland State University and City Hall, said the group is on a mission.

"Fight corporate greed and not look at it with anger and not settle on anger but to try to move forward and figure out how we can make this system functioning," Smalldon said.

And in New York City, the sun rose on Sunday over Washington Square Park in Manhattan to reveal protesters who have taken their grievances to other areas of the city.

The issues include global warming, gas prices and corporate greed, but the common thread is anger targeted at the wealthy and powerful at the expense of the middle class and less fortunate.

Students protesting against tuition hikes, union leaders speaking out against health of the middle class, people angry and disillusioned with the economy and political process in general have gathered daily and are growing in the masses.

As protests continue to expand throughout the country, not all of them have ended peacefully.  The National Air and Space Museum in Washington had to shut down Saturday after some 200 protesters -- both anti-war protesters joined by Occupy Wall Street protesters -- tried to enter with signs.

Security guards tried to stop them and at least one other guard used pepper spray on demonstrators before ordering the building be shut.  Pepper spray has been used by NYPD officers in the past few weeks as well.

Smithsonian representatives said the museum opened on time Sunday and was fully operational.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Occupy DC Protesters March through Washington Demanding Jobs

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The mantra of the Occupy D.C. protests rang out loudly and clearly through downtown Washington Thursday afternoon.

“Where are the jobs?” protesters yelled outside the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We need jobs” they shouted in front of the White House.

“Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” they chanted while marching down K Street.

The group plans to “occupy,” or camp out in, Washington’s Freedom plaza until the government creates a serious jobs program, adds an amendment to the Constitution to take “big money” out of elections by repealing the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and investigates Wall Street bankers that were involved in the financial crisis, said protestor Peter Burr, 64.

“There are very, very few people in the United States who are not being impacted by this, and I don’t know if it will take weeks or months but gradually they are all going to speak up,” said Burr, who drove from Nashville, Tenn., to participate in Thursday’s event.

Occupy D.C. is an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement that has taken up residence in downtown New York City for the past three weeks.  Both the president and vice president spoke out in solidarity with the “occupy” protestors Thursday.

“What is the core of that protest?” asked Vice President Joe Biden at the Washington Ideas Forum.  “The core is: The bargain has been breached.  The core is the American people do not think the system is fair or on the level.  That is the core is what you’re seeing with Wall Street.”

At a White House press conference, President Obama said the Wall Street protest “expresses the frustrations that the American people feel.”

“We had the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, huge collateral damage all throughout the country, all across Main Street,” Obama said.  “And yet you’re still seeing some of the same folks who acted irresponsibly trying to fight efforts to crack down on abusive practices that got us into this problem in the first place.”

As about 600 citizens marched through the streets of downtown Washington they chanted, “We are 99 percent,” as in the 99 percent of Americans who share the same amount of wealth as the top 1 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio