About 250 Occupiers snarled traffic on 14th Street for hours Tuesday night as protesters took to the streets in cities across the country for the Occupy movement's national May Day protest.
In New York, thousands of Occupiers marched in the streets and confronted police on Fifth Avenue; in Seattle, protesters smashed windows and caused damage to the city's courthouse. Protesters damaged buildings in San Francisco and faced tear gas from police in Oakland, Calif. But in the District, protesters lounged in Meridian Hill Park for several hours, dancing around a maypole and holding a rally featuring speakers impersonating historical labor leaders. Then they marched to the White House for a late-evening rally.
It was easily Occupy's biggest showing in months; since an early-February police raid on its camps in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, large-scale protests have been few and far between for the movement.
Freedom Plaza has been free of protesters for nearly a month now, and only a handful of tents remain in McPherson Square as the National Park Service reseeds the park to repair some of the damage caused by a six-month occupation. The movement has also weathered heavy criticism from business owners, local politicians and even the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
As Occupiers prepared their May Day festival Tuesday, Ward 2 D.C. Councilman Jack Evans introduced a bill aimed at Occupiers that would require protesters to obtain permits for any demonstrations in the city. The bill was passed through to committee with no co-sponsors.
Protesters played Occupy-themed games -- "Corporate Personhood Challenge" and "Inequality Pong" among them -- before leaving on the march, at some points stopping traffic completely on 14th Street Northwest in the middle of rush hour. D.C. police directed cars down side streets that quickly became choked with traffic as Occupiers chanted anti-capitalist slogans and hoisted a giant dragon puppet above the crowd. No arrests had been made at press time.
Occupiers said they were pleased with the day's events, emphasizing May Day's roots as a day for labor protests.
"I delayed my first day at my new job to be here," said protester Joe Gray. "Since the eviction, a lot of people got scattered. Now we're reuniting and celebrating our glorious May Day."