A day after an Occupy DC protester was tased in the back by a Park Police officer, the media was out in force at Occupy DC. Monday to cover the Park Police’s noon deadline against camping at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, the largest remaining Occupy encampments.
Before their arrival the youthful protesters at McPherson draped a massive blue tarp over the statue of Gen. James B. McPherson and moved some of their tents underneath it. They dubbed it the “tent of dreams.”
The hope, among the protesters I spoke to, was the tent would force the Park Police into a confrontation, rather than allow them to arrest protesters one by one. At noon, there were just about as many members of the media as there were occupiers. They too were hoping for a confrontation.
That’s how the media has covered this movement, a series of confrontations with police: Brooklyn Bridge, Oakland tear-gassing, raid of Zuccotti, UC Davis pepper spray, McPherson “occubarn,” flag burning in Oakland.
Around 1 p.m., Park Police Sgt. Schlosser addressed the media horde about their plans. He said the camping ban enforcement will be ongoing, but they have no deadline for police action. Around 2 p.m. most of the cameras were gone.
The occupiers attempted to keep the remaining members of the media interested in what they had expected to be a pivotal day. They had a dance party with loud speakers. They mic-checked short speeches. They surrounded a Fox News police van that was blocking a fire hydrant and forced it to move.
They chanted "Fox News: slanted and biased" and "Fox News sucks!"
But their hyperactivity led them to miss a pivotal moment. With the nation’s media focused on their camp, they had no plan for a symbolic protest, other than to build an even larger tent, to show their defiance of a sleeping ban already upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
They masked their faces, gawked at their massive tent, and speculated about a police invasion that may or may not happen tonight. As of this evening, the rumor on Twitter (#J30) is that Park Police will come in at 11 p.m.
But some hope may still exist for two of the nation's last large Occupy encampments protesting against income inequality and money in politics. Today, a Georgia man filed a lawsuit in federal district court in D.C. claims the term "camping" is too broadly defined, according to the Washington Post.
The suit filed Monday by Dane C. Primerano claims that enforcing the ban “will be a de facto prohibition upon the relevant assembly” and says “the term ‘camping’ is defined over-broadly.” His reasoning includes the argument that camping “encompasses activity that is unavoidable for destitute participants in a long-term political assembly, while … implicitly and wrongly suggesting that the behavior is somehow trivial, frivolous or optional.”
Destitution, Primerano’s suit alleges, is “the plaintiff’s state in fact.” Primerano said in court papers that he is unemployed and has $225 in a bank account. “We do not condition our sovereign citizens’ fundamental First Amendment rights on a capacity to pay market hotel rates,” the suit says.
The story notes that the complaint is similar to another claim by Occupy DC's lawyer Jeff Light. Light said at a General Assembly at McPherson on Friday that he is claiming police don't have the right to take protesters' property under the Fifth Amendment. Both claims will be addressed at a hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday.