The group of protesters who have been camped out in Freedom Plaza since Oct. 6 have been granted a new permit by the National Park Service to continue their protest on the federal park land just blocks from the White House, a spokeswoman for the National Mall said Wednesday.
Carol Johnson said that the National Park Service granted a new permit to the protesters, who will be allowed to continue their encampment on the plaza between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28.
“We would have stayed with or without the permit,” said Kevin Zeese, one of the organizers. “But we’re pleased to have the support of the Park Service.”
The protesters will be required to share space on the plaza during part of February with another group from the National Center for Public Policy Research, a free market think-tank based in the District. That group plans daily pro-freedom, limited-government rallies during the lunch hour.
Zeese's group -- which once called itself Stop the Machine! but now goes by the moniker Occupy Washington, D.C.,-- had a current permit for their protest that set to expire on Friday. The camp shares similar goals with but is essentially separate from the Occupy D.C. encampment at McPherson Square, which has no permit.
Both camps have raised the ire of local leaders in recent weeks, and a congressional oversight committee is investigating whether or not the protesters at McPherson Square are camping on federal land illegally. The Park Service has maintained that both camps are allowed to operate a "24-hour vigil" to express their First Amendment rights.
"Essentially all I can really say is that it was within the rights to apply for another permit and it was issued for Jan. 1," Johnson said. "They will still be expected to abide by park regulations."
Amy Ridenour, president of the group from the National Center for Public Policy Research, said it had applied for its permit weeks ago, expecting the Occupiers to be long gone by then. It will be allowed to rally on the east end of Freedom Plaza from Feb. 12 through March 15, Johnson said.
This story has been updated.