The head of the Greater Washington Board of Trade said Friday that the business community in Washington has lost patience with the Occupy D.C. protesters, because their encampments on McPherson Square and at Freedom Plaza are hurting tourism and local businesses and could become a magnet for crime.
“We are well past the patience point with Occupy D.C.,” Jim Dinegar, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, said Friday. He was interviewed for the Kojo Nnamdi show on WAMU-FM. “The District is being abused by the Occupiers.”
Dinegar faulted the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police for not taking a harder line with the protesters, who have been camped out in McPherson Square since Oct. 1 without a permit. The Freedom Plaza group does have a permit for its encampment.
“McPherson Square will be a toxic waste dump for the next couple of years,” Dinegar predicted, adding that businesses such as Georgia Brown’s restaurant and the nearby Starbucks have been impacted by the ongoing protest.
Dinegar criticized the “roving bands of Occupiers” whose actions have caused major traffic delays around the District in recent days. More than 70 were arrested in protests along K Street on Wednesday during a day of action targeting the lobbying industry that snarled traffic and delayed bus service for hours, angering many commuters.
“You’ve made your point. ... We wish you well wherever you go after you leave Washington,” Dinegar said.