Occupy DC Eviction: Firsthand Account
Well, that was an interesting day.
I started this Saturday morning with a nice peaceful paintball outing in Capitol Heights, just outside DC.
I was planning to go shower, finish off the remaining half of last night’s pizza, and sleep. But then I read on FDL that THOSE BASTARDS WERE KICKING OUT OCCUPYDC.
So my plans immediately changed to scrubbing off the paint in my beard & hair (instead of showering), finishing off 1/4 of the pizza instead of 1/2 (I was hungry, yo), and hopping on the Metro to get to McPherson Square.
Anyway, I got there at about 4:30pm, and this is what went down:
This was the view from K Street at about 4:30pm. The park is on federal land, so this was a federal raid (Yaaay Obama!!) but it’s clear DC police were coordinating this. You can tell by the vans. DC cops shut down the streets surrounding the encampment before dawn in the morning.
They had it barricaded off, so it was hard to get in. Riot police in the distance had already taken down a few tents at this point.
Cops cleared half the park already. It started raining in the afternoon. As I said, they took down tents one at a time earlier in the day before I got there. The clear area behind the police is where they hold GAs.
Cops were going to take down the library tent and info tent next. Protesters formed a line in front of them and held hands to keep them out. You could hear them singing together peacefully in solidarity.
4:50 pm. The eviction begins. Riot police approach & threaten to arrest me. At this point they are threatening to arrest anyone, and declare that “The park is closed.” They told us resistance (even non-violent) will make things worse so just go.
Cops raid the library tent. Things start to get hectic. There’s lots of commotion & bumping from here on out, so the images get a little blurry. Somehow I got into the thick of it. There’s a big “THIS IS A PUBLIC SPACE” chant from the occupiers.
Cops raid the library tent. I heard glass breaking, but I couldn’t see. Two people manning the tent were still inside. I heard they got arrested. The police begin to circle around our flank and surround us. At this point people are telling each other to get the children out of the park.
Riot police start pushing occupiers with their shields. There’s all kinds of outrage and commotion at this point. It’s clear few of the occupiers want to get arrested. There’s a group of people in front of me, and the cops begin to get physical with them. People are falling to the ground, and falling back. The crowd begins to retreat. It was hard to do because we had to retreat walking backwards, because we had to keep an eye on the police as they were hitting us simultaneously.
From out of nowhere, mounted police show up, and advanced on us on horseback. Needless to say the people in front backed off even more, because they were about to get run over by horses.
I stood my ground, but before I knew it, the retreating group in front of me was gone, and I was at the front line.
The crackhead cop on the left was beating everyone in his vicinity with his shield. This cop was a real dick, the way he was hitting people. We were half running backwards at this point, some people were almost stampeded.
A guy had to get rushed out for medical attention.
Things got real hectic at this point. I had to put the camera away because I was about to either a) trip & get stampeded, b) get run over by a horse, or c) get beat on by Officer Asshole in the picture.
[Update] Here’s a good video clip from RT at that point:
After this, the next thing we know, we were all out on the street and out of the park.
After that this happened:
There was some altercation with the police and protesters. Lots of bumping and shoving. It got really loud, you can hear how the volume overloaded the mic on my phone.
Cops are the 99%, but they don’t seem to realize it. I hear someone in the crowd say “They have no choice, they have orders.” A kid behind me shoots back “But they do not have to obey. We don’t.”
At this point, the park was cleared, everyone’s stuff was confiscated. WTF is up with the HAZMAT suits?
They brought trucks and shipping containers to haul everything off. Who knows if they’ll get their stuff back.
6pm. We’re all standing in the middle of K Street (DC police still have it blocked off as well as the Metro station), and we refuse to leave.
Afterwords, there was a post-mortem GA in the rain in front of the pigs about what went well, and what didn’t. There was a clear anti-Obama & anti-Issa sentiment in the air, as this could not be blamed on the mayor of DC; this was federal land. Spirits were still high, people were undeterred. People will return to the site Sunday.
Pretty crazy day.