For weeks, while other protesters around the country clashed with police, the Occupy D.C. campaign maintained a mostly mellow relationship with authorities. That changed Sunday, when police detained 31 protesters during a day-long standoff, which revolved around a dispute over a 15-foot-tall wooden shelter built to help keep protesters warm.
Reader reactions to the day’s events are mixed:
• WashingtonDame: “The police gave them an inch, so they took a mile. Time to evict them and give the park back to the public and other groups.”
• OhMatt1: “There will be 1million in DC before spring. Just keep watching folks ... this is just the warm up.”
• junkie4politics: “I see nothing wrong with an active, professed refusal to obey certain laws, demands, and commands of a government, or power. Particularly when refusal is integrity or justice based.”
During the standoff, rumors swirled around police efforts to corral media; which type of force police were (or weren’t) using to detain protesters; and whether or not police would dismantle the tent city completely. In the end, though officials determined that the structure itself was illegally built without a permit, protesters were allowed to remain in the McPherson Square encampment after the standoff stretched well into Sunday evening.
With media and web-savvy protesters closely following every twist in the protest’s storyline, there’s speculation that D.C. police are actively trying to stay out of the spotlight.
“What keeps police chiefs up at night is that somehow the purpose of the movement will become about actions that the police have taken,” Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a D.C.-based law enforcement think tank, told Theola Labbé-DeBose.
The last event to result in arrests occurred two Saturdays ago, when protesters occupied an abandoned building a few blocks away from McPherson Square.
POLL: Do you think Sunday’s arrests and detainments mark a turning point in relations between police and protesters?
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