A new rule that bans camping in Lafayette Square, the Ellipse and other parklands in the center of Washington has been put into effect by the National Park Service.
The so-called Reaganville tent city in Lafayette Square across from the front of the White House was dismantled in April by its occupants, some of whom moved onto the Ellipse. Following the distribution of eviction notices last Friday, U.S. Park Police went there yesterday and, without incident, removed trash and the remnants of tents and lean-tos, the park service reported.
The original Lafayette Square settlement was sponsored chiefly by Washington's Community for Creative Non-Violence (CCNV) to protest and dramatize the administration's cuts in services to poor people.
The park service moved swiftly to ban the camping when it began last November, but lost after CCNV contended in court that the park service's refusal to approve a "symbolic" campsite deprived it of constitutional free-speech rights.
The new rule makes clear that symbolic campsites without overnight inhabitants may be erected, but this "does not permit camping or the erection of tents for camping in connection with demonstration activities in other than formally designated and maintained campgrounds" in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Responding to an American Civil Liberties Union objection that the rule could bar noontime snoozes by federal workers, the park service said that's okay unless the napper is "using the site as a living accommodation."