During the day, officers arrested 15 demonstrators and charged them with crossing a police line, Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said. Shortly after nightfall, police moved in and detained the protesters who had remained inside the open shed all day, and 16 people were charged with disobeying a lawful police order. One of them also was charged with resisting arrest, indecent exposure and urinating in public.
Six people clung to the roof of the shed, but police were able to remove all of them by 8:35 p.m. and later dismantled the shelter.
There were no reports of injuries.
The Occupy D.C. movement took over a public park in the center of downtown amid a national and worldwide protest that has landed in most major American cities. Ranging from a few dozen to more than 100 protesters, the Washington group has railed against large corporations and banks and has rallied on behalf of the “99 percent” of the country they think has been oppressed by the wealthy few.
In view of the White House and in the middle of influential K Street, the protest has drawn much interest but little controversy during its stay. The impromptu building, however, changed things Sunday.
Occupy D.C. participants said Sunday that the structure’s only purpose was to provide a warm gathering place for protesters as winter weather sets in and that it had been designed by volunteer architects to comply with federal park regulations, which require any structure to be temporary and easy to move. It was built on stilts with no foundation.
Police officials — who have allowed the tent city to remain in a public park — insisted that the building was illegal because it appeared to be a permanent structure and the group had not obtained a permit for it. Whatever the original purpose of the building, it quickly became a lightning rod.
Police at first gave protesters a midmorning deadline to take down the structure, then relented and allowed about 20 people to remain inside. But they surrounded the site with a cordon of more than 50 Park Police officers, including a half-dozen on horseback.
For hours, protesters climbed onto the shed’s rafters and milled on the ground beneath, shouting slogans about justice and equality while police watched in silence. Periodically, shoving or shouting matches erupted along the security perimeter. Police generally stood back, but they did wrestle individual demonstrators to the ground and led them off in handcuffs toward police vans.