The Washington Post

Occupy D.C. vacating McPherson Square, goodbye ceremony planned

Members of Occupy D.C. plan on clearing out McPherson Square and throwing an official goodbye ceremony this weekend, organizers said Tuesday.

Protester Rooj Alwazir said the group met Sunday and decided to leave the square — where it had a skeletal presence for the past three months — for good this week. The group’s library tent was taken down, and the books were moved to the group’s new office space nearby, she said.

“It’s sad, but it’s a good move for us, so we can move on to other projects out in the community,” Alwazir said. In recent weeks, the remaining Occupiers have turned their attention to Occupy Our Homes, an affiliated movement to help defend homeowners facing eviction.

It was a quiet coda to one of the longest-running occupation sites in the country, which began noisily in October 2011 when protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement took over the federally owned park in Northwest Washington. Dozens of protesters practically lived in the square for four months — prompting an outcry from neighbors and a congressional hearing — until a high-profile raid by U.S. Park Police cleared the encampment in early February.

The National Park Service allowed the protesters to maintain symbolic “vigil tents” in the square, so a small group remained until this week. Park Service workers had already cordoned off large swaths of the park this spring to renovate and reseed where the protesters had damaged $8,000 worth of sod installed in a $400,000 upgrade of the park completed with federal stimulus money in 2010.

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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