A panel of the House committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) plans to hold a hearing next week to probe public health and public safety concerns at the McPherson Square encampment of the Occupy D.C. movement.
Washington, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis are scheduled to testify next Tuesday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subcommittee with oversight of the District of Columbia.
The committee’s Republican staff said the hearing would focus on decisions made by the Park Service that continue to allow protesters to occupy the downtown Washington park despite conflicting interpretations of the legality of the protests.
Unlike protests in other cities that occurred on city- or state-owned land, D.C. protests are on federally-owned property at McPherson Square — in the heart of Washington’s K St. corridor — and Freedom Plaza, just blocks from the White House.
The committee launched an investigation last month into whether the Occupy protesters are camping on federal parkland illegally. Though Park Service officials had responded to the committee’s initial request, Committee chaiman Issa (R-Calif.) complained last week in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that the agency had been “unresponsive” to the “overwhelming majority” of the committee’s requests for information.
The committee’s inquiry come as protesters continue camping at the downtown Washington site, despite a burgeoning rodent population and an incident last week where a protester left an infant abandoned in a tent.
The hearing’s formal announcement also came on the same day as Occupy Congress, a daylong protest on Capitol Hill organized by members of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
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