Monday, 12 December 2011

OCCUPY DC PKG

The Occupy DC rally was supposed to leave Freedom Plaza Sunday night. But on Monday morning, the protesters showed no signs of budging.

Police had not showed up to kick the activists out of their tent city on the corner of E and 14th Streets. Much of the talk on Monday morning focused on what to do in case the authorities did come to disperse the rally. That conversation would soon become unnecessary. Later that afternoon, DC Park Police told organizers that they could stay in Freedom Plaza for up to four months. The next day, DC City Council members threw their weight behind the protestors, saying they had no problem with the rallies proceeding indefinitely.

The threat of a confrontation did not scare off many participants. By 9 am, the protesters were out making coffee and planning the day's actions. The protestors planned to march to Union Station, where representatives from the Italian and Spanish Embassies were set to participate in a wreath laying ceremony to honor Christopher Columbus. They also intended to rally near the Mt. Vernon Convention Center and volunteer at a local homeless shelter, to honor World Homeless Day.

The Occupy DC protest has taken over two plazas in downtown Washington. The rally began with a dozen people in McPherson Square last week. It spread to Freedom Plaza when a separate, previously planned protest arrived on Thursday. The "Stop the Machine" rally had been in the works since the beginning of the year, and organizers secured a permit to stay in Freedom Plaza starting October 6th. Over 500 people attended that protest over the weekend, and many refused to leave Sunday night. Meanwhile, Occupy DC swelled to almost 200 people in McPherson Square, and the two protests quickly agreed to support each other.

People traveled from across the country to attend this rally, many of them leaving family and work behind. One protestor flew in from Dallas, where his stepdaughter has recently given birth to her first child. He says he is protesting on behalf of his granddaughter, so that she could grow up with a chance to succeed and lead a comfortable life. He bought a one-way ticket to Washington, and does not know when he will return to Texas.

The protest was inspired by the movement that started in New York last month. That rally was aimed specifically at eliminating the corporate greed that, in the protesters' view, is the root cause of the national depression. Most of the DC activists shared those same views, but also rallied against the war in Iraq and environmental destruction.


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