Wednesday was a rough day for Occupy protesters in San Francisco, where police cleared out the camp in a predawn raid, and in Boston, where they lost legal protection against eviction. As the movement prepared for a port blockade along the entire West Coast, unions said they wouldn’t support it. And judges outside Boston ruled against the Occupiers, too, in places as small as Augusta, Maine.
But protesters in one city had what they considered a very good Wednesday. In Washington, hundreds of people, either from Occupy D.C. or bused in from around the country, participated in a “Day of Action: Occupiers Unite” to target K Street NW, where many of the capital’s lobbyists are based.
The protesters succeeded in crippling downtown traffic for much of the afternoon, blocking intersections as they chanted and formed human chains. More than 70 people were arrested, but many Occupiers will tell you that can be a good thing, because it means the world will keep watching.
Washington seems to make sense as a new center for Occupy, which has spent the last several months pointing its anger at greed on Wall Street. Much of what the movement is protesting — the influence of money in politics, political deadlock, and what it calls a “corrupt” Congress — has its focus here.
The K Street action came on the heels of a similar protest called “Take Back the Capitol,” during which hundreds of demonstrators from around the country parked themselves on the Mall. The group is backed by the powerful Service Employees International Union and the progressive activist group MoveOn.org.
Occupy D.C. in McPherson Square is also among the only encampments that for months faced no problem from police and city officials, even after Zuccotti Park in New York was raided in November.
That changed when several protesters built a large, illegal makeshift shelter in the square, and more than 30 people were arrested as a result. But just a day later, a U.S. District judge ruled in their favor, saying the National Park Service must give them in some notice if it moves to evict them.
On Jan. 17, protesters say, they plan to Occupy Congress, in the “largest Occupy protest ever!” The protest is being timed for the start of the 2012 legislative session, and protesters say they hope to set up 1 million tents in front of the Capitol. “We’re taking the movement straight to their doorstep,” the protest’s Facebook page wrote. “... to send a message to Congress: Ordinary citizens are not being represented by their elected leaders.”
Photos from Washington Wednesday.: