“He’s my personal physician,” the young woman said of McFallon, giving him a meaningful glance. She then enveloped him in a gentle hug before drifting off, leaving the medic grinning in her wake.
As the Occupy movement enters its fourth month locally, it has spawned two full-service camps, more than 100 arrests and an ongoing constitutional debate over the right to free speech on federal land. But a combustible combination of youthful energy, enthusiasm for shared ideals and tight living quarters has given rise to something else: Romance. Lots and lots of romance.
More than a dozen couples have emerged after three months of outdoor living, including one pair who got engaged over the holidays. As with Occupy encampments on Wall Street and across the country, there have been many more casual hook-ups, bruised hearts and unofficial entanglements.
Medics at both D.C. protests routinely hand out condoms. At McPherson Square, there are also pregnancy tests — at least one of which has come back positive. Indeed, Occupiers are beginning to joke that a string of Occubabies may appear come June.
“You can’t spell ‘revolution’ without ‘love,’ ” said Michael Patterson, a 21-year-old protester who had a brief romantic involvement with another Occupier in the fall.
Last week, one of the resident anarchists at McPherson Square, Legba Carrefour, said he’d procured a used hot tub on Freecycle.org, although it seemed unlikely that the National Park Service, which has jurisdiction over the two parks, would allow such a thing to be installed.
“It’s a bunch of people in their 20s, gathered in a public space with the express purpose of breaking the law. What do you expect to happen?” asked Rob Wohl, 23, a District resident.
Wohl groused that he had been “sexiled” from his tent one recent chilly night by an amorous pair seeking privacy, the Occupy equivalent of the old college dorm trick of hanging a sock on the door knob.
Sgt. David Schlosser, the public information officer for the U.S. Park Police, said that anyone caught having sex in the parks could be arrested and charged with indecent exposure or committing an indecent act. Occupiers are supposed to leave one tent flap open so that Park Police — who are assigned to the camps on a 24-hour basis — can monitor the area for illegal activity. More than 50 arrests have been made on park grounds for various offenses since October, including one charge of sexual assault, according to a National Park Service tally from December.
It’s not always rosy. Schlosser said about a half-dozen of the arrests involved quarreling romantic partners at McPherson.
Protesters at both camps said they have no internal rules governing sexual activity as long as it occurs between consenting adults and remains “inside the tents.” Protesters at Freedom Plaza — which has a slightly older cohort than the young rebels at McPherson Square — do ask for quiet time between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.