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Freedom Plaza Protesters Staying Put

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It's still unclear whether protesters have been granted a four-month extension on their permit for Freedom Plaza, but they have agreed to share the area with other groups hoping to use the area.
Markette Smith
It's still unclear whether protesters have been granted a four-month extension on their permit for Freedom Plaza, but they have agreed to share the area with other groups hoping to use the area.

The Stop the Machine protesters gathered in Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C. met with Park Police officials Monday to ask for an extension of their permit, which expired Monday evening. After the meeting, Stop the Machine organizers said the permit had been extended for four months. Park Police officials denied this to the Washington Post, however, saying they were still negotiating with the activists.

At this point, the activists are still in their tents, sleeping bags, sofas and lawn chairs, but they have agreed to share Freedom Plaza with other groups hoping to use the area. Veterans hunker down in their sleeping bags next to unemployed people or teens camping out on sofas. Many here thought their four-day protest would end in arrest, or at least expulsion, but that hasn't been the case.

Some activists here believe they've got an additional four more months, but the park police says it's still discussing options. The agency met with organizers late Monday afternoon and asked protesters to stop camping on the plaza as a condition of extending their permit. Tents offering food, and health and legal information could supposedly remain.

It was a largely peaceful, calm protest Monday, with no arrests, although police presence has grown along the perimeter of the plaza. Leaders of the movement ssay their goal is not to get arrested, but to simply have their voices heard. 

The Stop the Machine protest was meant to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, but these protesters have expressed many of the same concerns voiced by the Occupy DC protesters camping out at McPherson Square a few blocks way.

This story has been updated to reflect that as of this morning, there had been no deal to grant a four-month extension to the Stop the Machine protesters.

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