Members of the Occupy movement's two protest camps in the District of Columbia have tentatively agreed to join forces, members of the group said late Thursday.
Representatives from the McPherson Square Occupy camp met Thursday evening and approved a possible merger with the Occupy camp at Freedom Plaza, but details have yet to be worked out, and the Freedom Plaza group must still ratify the idea, the protesters said. The two downtown campsites have been advocating for similar economic causes in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement but have often seemed at odds.
Occupiers said that Thursday's decision was driven in part by the fact that the Freedom Plaza contingent believes it may not get a renewal of its National Park Service permit, which allows the protest on the plaza near the White House and expires later this month. A spokesman for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, Carol B. Johnson, said Thursday that the Freedom Plaza permit remained unresolved.
Along with the national Occupy Wall Street movement, the two camps have struggled to regain their momentum this spring after the fall and winter, and their ranks have been dwindling in recent weeks.
Dozens of Occupy protesters advocating economic justice pitched their tents in both Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square last October, but the two remained separate groups with somewhat frosty relations, each holding their own marches and creating separate governing structures.
The overnight campers stayed in both spots for four contentious months until U.S. Park Police evicted them in February. The Occupiers can maintain symbolic vigil tents in the public spaces but cannot sleep in them, the Park Service has said.
It was unclear Thursday night if the Freedom Plaza contingent would be packing up and moving their vigil tents to McPherson Square, where Thursday Park Service employes began tilling up the flower beds and preparing to replace some $8,000 worth of sod that had been ruined during the long protest.