Members of the local Occupy D.C. movement returned to McPherson Square on Thursday afternoon, setting up fresh tents in the newly seeded grass just days after the group had decided to vacate the federally-owned park for good.
About thirty or so protesters gathered in the hot sun in the square, hanging banners, erecting tents and setting up the group’s old library of leftist tomes with milk crates and bookshelves. A sign said “Occupy DC Here to Stay.”
They were joined by a group called the Anarchist DC Alliance Network and several other members of Occupy camps from San Francisco and elsewhere, who are stopping in town on way to a national Occupy meeting in Philadelphia on July 4.
Protester Nancy Munoz, of the District, said that they had returned to the park for an ongoing protest and handed out pamphlets that said, “Action: Restoring McPherson Square The Occupation Will Not Move!”
“We are committed to stay here and educate the public about capitalism, exploitation and, most of all, the importance of reclaiming public space,” Munoz said.
Dozens of protesters had lived in the square for a contentious four months during the fall and winter months before the U.S. Park Police staged a high-profile raid on Feb. 4, clearing the space of overnight campers. After that, protesters maintained a few symbolic “vigil” tents — permitted by the Park Service — until June 10, when the group finally broke camp, cleaned up their trash and departed.
Munoz said she did not know if the group would try and sleep in their tents this evening, which would be a violation of the Park Service’s no-camping regulations.
“Stay tuned,” she said.
Across the street, staff members at Georgia Brown’s restaurant — who had endured weeks of noise, rats and crowds during the winter protest — watched the goings-on from the restaurant’s terrace with barely disguised dismay. “They’re reoccupying!” one woman said frantically, into her cellphone.