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'Occupy' protesters defy ban, stay put in Washington

Tuesday January 31, 2012 05:17:24 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

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In Occupied America!

Washington: Occupy protesters in Washington defied a police deadline and erected a "tent of dreams" around a statue as part of their protest against eviction.

The camps at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, a couple of blocks from either end of the White House, are the group's most visible sites after the one in New York -- where the Occupy Wall Street movement against corporate greed began in September -- was cleared out in November.

Things began to heat up last week when National Park Service officials were called before Congress to explain why Occupy protesters have been allowed to illegally camp on park land. In response, the Park Service ordered protesters to cease camping by Monday.

On the day the US Park Police planned to enforce a no-camping rule, the mood was festive in McPherson Square. Some chanted Occupy slogans. Others milled around waiting for a noon deadline.

As the deadline neared, hundreds of people gathered around the statue of James McPherson, an American Civil War general. Then, protesters pulled a massive tarp over the statue symbolizing what they say is their right to camp here.

Last week, the police notified the two Occupy camps in Washington that they would enforce the camping ban. Protesters must clear out camping materials, but they may keep some structures as long as one side is open.

Police in Oakland, California made more than 400 arrests over the weekend when factions loosely affiliated with the Occupy movement clashed with police.

Stressing that the Occupy movement, which seeks better economic equality, is non-violent, protesters in Washington say they don't want that to happen here.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at





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