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October 09, 2011

DC Protesters Continue to Occupy After Permit Expires

by Sean Maroney

Anti-war and anti-Wall Street demonstrations are springing up in major cities across the United States, nearly a month after they started in the heart of New York's financial district. Our correspondent reports from one protest in Washington, where demonstrators say they plan to stay even if they risk arrest.

What was supposed to be a four-day demonstration in Washington against U.S. wars abroad and corporate greed showed no sign of ending on its fifth day Monday. People continued to protest a few blocks from the White House.

The occupation of Washington's Freedom Plaza by the October 2011 movement is one of two ongoing demonstrations in the capital alongside protests in major cities across the United States.

The group's permit to gather in the square expired late Sunday. National Park Police had given the group until Monday afternoon to leave.  

On Monday, police officers came to meet with the protestors, but the officers left after leaders of the movement refused to speak with them in private.

Even though protesters no longer have permission to remain here in downtown D.C., more and more tents are popping up, with many protesters saying they have no intention of leaving.

One protester said he would stay, "Until they drag me out."

Carla Fraydus says she left her home in Alabama without money to return, because she feels so strongly about the movement.

"This particular movement encompasses everything I care about," she said. "Everything.  If you break down the problems that the country has or the world has, it's all based on unchecked corporate greed."

It's unclear how long authorities will let the group remain.  Monday was a national holiday with many offices closed. A spokesman for the Park Service police could not be reached for comment.

Protest organizer Kevin Zeese says they are aware of the consequences, but remain determined.

"Those of us who get arrested will come back and start again," said Kevin Zeese. "We're not going to go away from an arrest for being in a federal park.  We see the Constitution as being explicit: Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech or freedom of assembly."

Zeese's group posted on YouTube what happened several days ago when some demonstrators tried to force their way past security at a museum to protest U.S. drone attacks in conflicts overseas.

Authorities arrested one person and used pepper spray to control the crowd.