Spirits were high among defiant Occupy D.C. protesters early Tuesday morning; despite a Monday deadline that prohibited any camping equipment on two Washington parks, the group is still camping out in McPherson Square.
The U.S. Park Service made the announcement Friday, threatening demonstrators with arrest if they did not vacate federal park space. In response, campers at McPherson Square instead hurled a blue tarp over the main statue of the park’s namesake, inciting confrontation and inviting arrests, the Washington Post reports.
As tensions grew and protesters blared Rage Against the Machine through loudspeakers, the noon deadline came and went. Throughout the day, Occupy members assembled near the large tarp, known as the “Tent of Dreams,” bracing for a police raid that never came.
“We’re just having a great party,” Occupy D.C. representative Sarah Shaw told CNN. “We’ve camped since October so it’s a lot like any other night. We’re all staying awake and looking out for each other.”
Until now demonstrators have been able to remain in the parks under a stipulation that describes the protest as a “24-hour vigil.” No arrests had been made as of early Tuesday, but protesters are prepared for police action.
Unlike the raucous crowd at McPherson Square, Freedom Plaza, another protest space, complied with rules to convert the encampment into a “vigil space,” unzipping tents for police to inspect and rolling up sleeping gear. Demonstrator Jerry Jackson told the Post, “We want to show [police] we’re not going to start a fight. But we’re not going to back away, either.”
On Sunday, Occupy members were outraged when police arrested Washington protester Ryan Lash, 25, using a Taser to subdue him. The incident occurred while police handed out fliers warning of Monday’s impending deadline. Park Police spokesman David Schlosser told the Post the protester was taken to a hospital but declined treatment, and the incident is under review.
The Occupy movement was not so successful in Charlotte, N.C., where police made several arrests and removed tents Monday. The group’s attorney filed a lawsuit against the city for violation of rights of free speech and assembly, and is attempting to prevent the new ordinance banning demonstrators from the camp site. A court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Watch live streaming of Occupy D.C. from the Washington Post.