Riot Police Converge at Occupy DC: Inspection Develops into Eviction
*Above is the Occupy DC live stream. It is streaming live now and should be streaming intermittently throughout the day. Live streamers have been allowed to go beyond the police line to film the clearing of the park. They have to follow police parameters and abide by restrictions but it gives them the opportunity to expose how the Park Service is deciding what tents to tear down.
This is a stream you can watch of action in other parts of the park where occupiers are located.
[UPDATE – 8:18 PM] Occupiers are now in a pub getting food and drinks after their eviction by the Park Service.
In the past hours, police on horses came through the park. Bulldozers and trucks were destroying property.
Jeff Rae reported via Twitter, “The last of Occupy DC has been cleared. Some people must have been hurt. There was a lot of force used and many people screaming.”
The occupiers actually thought this would not happen so much material that could have been archived is gone.
[UPDATE – 4:04 PM] This has been going on for 11 hours. How long does it take to get total “compliance”? No, this isn’t about that anymore. Just about all tents will be seized and even the library will go by the time this is over, probably. The occupation has been destroyed.
[UPDATE – 2:22 PM] SWAT Team has arrived. The occupiers also are now defending their library from seizure. The differences between NYPD’s handling of Occupy Wall Street in November and the Park Police’s handling of Occupy DC now are disappearing. Each hour the crackdown is escalating against occupiers.
[UPDATE – 2:10 PM] There are occupiers that are resisting being moved by laying in the way of barricades.
Occupiers moving to north side of park again. “Inspection” or eviction still going on. Meanwhile, many other Occupy protests are engaged in “No War on Iran” protests, which is what Occupy DC would be doing if Park Service wasn’t doing this today.
[UPDATE – 12:28 PM] National Park Police “mic check” to occupier early this morning – video.
[UPDATE – 12:20 PM]
[UPDATE – 12:10 PM] Looks like a few from Occupy DC picked up their property including a tent and went to occupy in front of an ATM. Police on the scene now.
[UPDATE – 11:45 AM] Caption Contest — I’ll highlight the best ones later today in this post.
[UPDATE – 11:13 AM] Solid point just made on UStream. How does one distinguish between property there for visual and property there for personal use? Are they allowed to have chairs and inflatable mattresses and other materials to make it look like a camp to promote the message of Occupy? It appears the Park Police are telling Occupy DC with this crackdown “no.” But, again, all they were told was that they had to have one flap of the tent open. There could be no sleeping or any preparing to sleep.
[UPDATE – 11:05 AM] Men in Hazmat suits are snapping and breaking tents. They are being ripped apart. But, of course, they are being told they can come pick up their property on Monday.
I don’t know how closely you follow this Occupy movement that usually ends up being a lie. Occupiers go to get their property from the city on the first day that they can after the raid and are given a runaround. They
[UPDATE – 11:00 AM] I still think there’s a difference between what the Park Service is doing here and what happened in New York and Los Angeles with the NYPD and LAPD to Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA. But, since the Park Police are now making up terms for what is and is not in compliance, I see little reason to maintain a distinction. Occupy DC is being clearly violated. Having books or a yoga mat in a tent is being considered “not in compliance.” They didn’t begin the morning activity like this. They indicated to occupiers hours ago they would just take materials inside tents. But, the tents are coming down and, in the winter, without tents it is harder to engage in First Amendment activities.
[UPDATE – 10:55 AM] Again, there are men in Hazmat suits at an occupation to take down tents that may be deemed a threat to public health. All of this just gives the impression that the Occupy movement is dirty, stinky, smelly.
The live streamers were allowed to embed. But, the live streamers are getting tired of the police-approved tag and they are tired of going where police tells them to go. They feel they are compromising their integrity and morals.
[UPDATE – 10:37 AM] I am watching the live stream and I am fully sympathetic to the frustration and anger of Occupy DC. They are taking tents that people were occupying, that belong to individuals and they are doing it even if there is no camping or sleeping materials. I still am not going to call this an eviction yet. When I see a report that the National Park Service is going to prevent occupiers from remaining in the Square to occupy 24/7, I will call it an eviction. What they are doing right now is not an eviction. What the NYPD and LAPD did was an eviction. The Park Service is simply cracking down arbitrarily on the encampment. They were bullied by politicians and are bowing to pressure.
[UPDATE – 10:35 AM] Here is a photo of police holding a map of the Occupy site. Occupiers believe this was planned well-ahead of now, which probably true. They had been preparing to make people “compliant” for weeks. They just didn’t until the GOP tried to humiliate the Park Service with a congressional hearing.
[UPDATE – 10:20 AM] More barricades going up around McPherson Square. Riot police had left but they have returned. The scene is escalating again, as many tents are being taken by the Park Service. They are calling some of the tents/gear being taken “biohazards.”
Police clad in riot gear from the National Park Service showed up to McPherson Square between 5 and 6 am ET. They arrived to make sure the occupiers were “in compliance” with the “no camping” rule for the park. They conducted an inspection of tents and seized any camping gear or sleeping materials they thought could be or were used to violate the rule.
Sara Shaw [@Sara_Jeans], a participant with Occupy DC, reported all streets around McPherson Square were blocked. They immediately went after a “Tent of Dreams” that was setup in the middle of the square earlier in the week on Monday when the Park Service was going to begin to enforce the “no camping” rule. The tent was surrounded. People inside refused to leave.
Occupiers were told they would be allowed to keep tents, as they are a symbolic part of the protest. That had been understood between the Park Service since Monday. But the Park Service began to seize some of the tents because they were “evidence” and had materials inside that had been in “violation.”
Earlier, A captain “mic checked” that the vigil would be allowed to continue. This was not an eviction. They just wanted to make certain no occupiers were in “compliance” with the “no camping” rule.
A flier was handed to members of Occupy DC. It notified them that the Park Service would arrest those who were not in “compliance.” Property would be “seized as evidence,” according to Shaw.
The Park Service put up barricades around the park. They also brought in police on horseback.
The “Tent of Dreams” came down. The occupiers ultimately cooperated with police. It was folded up by them and not taken away by a garbage truck.
Live streamers were given “special tags,” Shaw reported, that allowed them to film “beyond police lines.”
A legal advisor in a blue “Occupy Supply” hat indicate the police had given occupiers opportunity to get camping gear and sleeping materials out of the park. A trailer had arrived to take material over to a church.
Members of Occupy DC wondered about the occupation in Freedom Plaza that has been ongoing. The legal advisor suggested Park Service had a better relationship with those in Freedom Plaza and there was no urgent situation. (One thing that occupation had that those in McPherson Square never had was a permit.)
The Park Service had been gradually building up to this kind of inspection all week. And, they stopped using discretion when enforcing the camping rule because Republican congressmen like Darrell Issa and Trey Gowdy decided to investigate the “corruption” within a government agency that they thought was permitting “indefinite camping,” a crime that had to be stopped immediately.
It was so urgent that they had the House Oversight & Reform Committee hold a hearing to find out who in the Obama Administration gave the National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis orders to not enforce park rules.
Sadly, they found no liberal conspiracy here. As Rep. Elijah Cummings declared, “I wish we had as much concern about the people who have lost their houses.” There had now been 118 hearings with 342 witnesses. He said when a banker is asked to come testify on robo-signing the committee cannot get them because Issa doesn’t want them to “come in to explain why they have illegally put people out of their houses.”
“I guess people who are protesting and are part of Occupy—They look at a hearing like this and say this is why they are protesting,” stated Cummings. “Because they see their government, particularly a committee that is supposed to be standing up for them, not addressing the issues that go to the center of their lives.”
GOP bullying has led the Park Service to now intrude upon Occupy DC. Perhaps, there is something more the occupiers could have done to give the Park Service political cover to use “discretion” as they were doing prior to this week. Or, maybe it was a matter of time before the Park Service began to whittle the occupation down to the few people with the commitment and stamina to hold the park 24/7 but never sleep in the park.
Either way, if Occupy DC can hold a presence after this for weeks, they win and Issa, Gowdy and all other GOP representatives lose. All those political leaders with contempt and scorn for people power have to look at the site and see their attempt to squash the movement in DC failed.
Occupiers may not be able to sleep peacefully ever again, but if they truly mean it when they say Occupy isn’t going anywhere, they will be happy that they stood strong when Beltway politicians tried to end their stand for the 99%.
Check back throughout the day for updates on the state of the occupation.