The Washington Post

In McPherson Square, a protest gathering grows

In the 10 days since the Occupy DC movement sprung up in McPherson Square, it has grown from a handful of protesters waving cardboard signs along K Street to an encampment similar to what’s in Zuccotti Park, where Occupy Wall Street protesters have lived since September 17.

Occupy DC now has food tables where volunteers dish up donated food, a library area, a media center and a “comfort station” piled with blankets. More than 100 attend the groups’ twice-daily general assembly meetings. Dozens have spent the night in the downtown square on air mattresses and sleeping bags and showing up for daily protest marches to the White House and elsewhere around the District.

Occupy DC does not have a permit to occupy the square, but so far, they said, police have left them alone.

“No one has any plans to ask for a permit — or to leave,” said Legba Carrefour, a self-described anarchist and participant. “We haven’t had any problems with police. So far they seem content to let us stay here.”

Carrefour said that they would embrace the other protesters who have been “occupying” Freedom Plaza since Thursday, should they decamp to McPherson Square because their permit expired.

Rooj Alwazir, 23, a District resident, joined the protests last week, and says she feels that the message of economic populism is catching fire, especially among her peers — other twentysomethings facing staggering student debt and scant job prospects.

A 2009 graduate of Marymount University in Arlington, Alwazir has been looking for a marketing job for eight months ever since her last position was downsized. She says she sends out 7 to 10 resumes and applications a day and has still come up empty.

“This movement was bound to happen,” she said. “People in our generation are frustrated... they should be demanding their rights and getting their rights. They feel really empowered by what’s going on.”

Annie Gowen is The Post’s India bureau chief and has reported for the Post throughout South Asia and the Middle East.


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