Share

Occupy DC clears out of McPherson Square

|
Photo - The National Park Service has started renovating McPherson Square, now that Occupy D.C. has gone. Photo from Wednesday, June 13, 2012.
The National Park Service has started renovating McPherson Square, now that Occupy D.C. has gone. Photo from Wednesday, June 13, 2012.
Local,DC,Aubrey Whelan

The last of the Occupy DC tents at McPherson Square were torn down late Sunday night, protesters said, effectively ending one of the oldest remaining encampments of the national anti-Wall Street movement.

The remnants of Occupy's tent city -- including a library and an information area -- were torn down by Monday morning, the colossal protest signs facing K Street overturned, the last of the demonstrators left to mill about where once 200 protesters gathered to organize meetings and marches.

Rumors circulated that intoxicated locals had destroyed the tents and protesters took to Twitter and blogs to express their anger. But protester Mark Smith said that it was some of their own who took down the last remaining tents following a meeting Sunday night.

Some protesters, upset to see the tents torn down, tried to salvage the camp by erecting a structure made of milk cartons and pitching a solitary tent on the park lawn. The last remnants of the original tent city, however, were gone.

There was no crackdown by local police or federal officials. With the Occupy camp down to a couple of abandoned tents, a few tarps and piles of trash, some protesters said it was just better to clear the last of it away.

"There were a bunch of people from Occupy DC that would drive by that park and just hate looking at it. It was a disaster," Smith said. "No one's used that park for anything since we got raided."

Passersby seemed pleased to see the park being cleared.

"They kind of made a mess of the park," said Therese Doucet, a federal employee taking a lunch break on a park bench. "I'm glad they're gone."

Occupiers arrived in McPherson Square in October and their ragtag tent city continued to grow until several hundred protesters were calling the park home. City officials and a congressional committee questioned why the camp was allowed to remain despite a ban on camping and called the site a growing health hazard that included a rat infestation.

But it wasn't until U.S. Park Police finally told Occupiers in February they could not longer sleep in the park overnight that the movement began to fade. Monday marked the first day since October that the newly renovated McPherson Square was free of Occupier tents.

Occupiers insist that while their camp is gone, their protests will continue. Now inhabiting offices rented for them at 16th and L streets by the Service Employees International Union, Occupiers said they plan a series of demonstrations, including a vigil outside a downtown branch of Bank of America, one of the major banks protesters blame for the national foreclosure crisis.

"The park was a great source for inviting people in, but it was a difficult space to keep resources intact," said protester Michael Basillas. "Just because we're not visible there doesn't mean we're not anywhere."

awhelan@washingtonexaminer.com

View article comments Leave a comment