Four months ago today, what is now known as the Occupy D.C. encampment in McPherson Square was born.
An offshoot of the larger Occupy Wall Street movement, the camp and the protesters that sustain it have ebbed and flowed. The size of the encampment grew, as did the amenities available to protesters — a kitchen, a medic’s tent, a library and even a tea house. Protesters participated in almost daily marches, and in more confrontational actions, tried to block the doors at the Convention Center during a conservative gathering, broke into an abandoned school building, built a massive barn and tried to occupy Congress. And as other prominent Occupy encampments around the country have been evicted, protesters at both McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza have mostly been allowed to go about their business with little overt interference from the police.
In recent weeks, though, D.C. Mayor Vince Gray has asked that they decamp for Freedom Plaza so that McPherson Square can be cleaned up, and a congressional committee grilled the National Park Service over why existing anti-camping regulations weren’t being enforced. The U.S. Park Police has said that it will no longer be so permissive of those that choose to sleep in the park, while some have started to wonder if the Occupy movement has become more about its occupation than about productively combatting income inequality.
In many ways, the protest and plight of the Occupy D.C. campers is very similar to an encampment set up in Lafayette Park in late 1981 and known as “Reaganville.” In fact, much of what happened then is influencing what could happen now. Wrote The New York Times of Reaganville:
[Continue reading Martin Austermuhle’s post at DCist.com.]