On a chilly Monday morning in Freedom Plaza, David Almasi began the occupation of Occupy DC.
As occupations go, this wasn't one for the record books, but Almasi, the executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research, was undeterred.
The cold and a nasty flu going around this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference took a toll, and only two dozen conservatives showed up to claim space in Freedom Plaza next to the Occupy DC camp.
The important thing, Almasi said, was to get out the message. And that message, essentially, is that Occupiers staked out in public parks for four months to protest corporate greed were doing it wrong.
"It's conservative speakers coming out to educate Occupiers," said Tom Borelli, director of the Free Enterprise Project. "Big government and crony capitalism is the problem, not capitalism."
"Occupy Occupy DC" (the event's official name) was born on a whim in November. That's when Almasi heard that Occupiers got a permit to remain at Freedom Plaza and applied for one of his own. The National Park Service granted him permission to spend five weeks next to Occupy.
Before long, conservatives were picking up pointers from Occupy, learning to do a "mic check," the call-and-response system Occupy popularized. Almasi even brought his own tents -- child-sized Lil Nursery tents he placed around a makeshift podium -- to mimic Occupy.
In time, bemused Occupiers and conservatives were shaking hands and bonding over their mutual disdain for government bailouts. Occupy's Anarchist Alliance set up a sign reading "Welcome, NCPPR!" A conservative held up a sign, "Can't we all get along?"
"I can be in solidarity with no bailouts, no crony capitalism," said Occupier James Hill. "We can disagree later -- we have real problems now. There was small turnout, but it shows how much power and potential this movement can have."
The next five weeks are uncertain, but Almasi said he's pleased to be protesting alongside Occupy.
"We don't want to take anyone's thunder from them," he laughed. "We just want to make sure our message gets across as well."