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Occupy Protesters Resisting Rats, Cold, Eviction

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The kitchen tent at the Occupy DC camp at McPherson Square had to be shut down.
Markette Smith
The kitchen tent at the Occupy DC camp at McPherson Square had to be shut down.

Things are looking grim for the many Occupy DC protestors. After reports of a rat infestation, D.C. Health Department inspectors plan to pay a visit today. It's just one of many obstacles facing the people demonstrating in D.C.

A disheveled Mark Smith has been camping out at McPherson Square since Oct. 7. He says he's not discouraged by the sanitation issues: "D.C. Parks are familiar grounds for rats. They were here way before we were here."

Winter wears on protesters

Beyond issues of sanitation, humans and creatures alike are in search of warmth as the season grows colder, and many of the original campers have moved on as the winter chill has set in.

Passing out hand warmers at the Occupy Washington D.C. encampment in Freedom Plaza, Mimi Segal of North Potomac, Md. says some people are starting to grow frustrated. The energy is low, and the campers look a bit worn out.

"Well, you know, if you were in a sinking ship like the titanic, you'd be a little rougher, too," says Segal.

Even so, she says people are prepared to stick around. One organizer at Freedom Plaza says he's working to get permanent housing in order to continue the movement.

Suit filed to prevent tent seizures

With structures against the cold more important now than ever, members of the Occupy DC movement are asking a judge to block the federal government from evicting them and confiscating their tents.

In court papers filed Wednesday, a lawyer for the group says he's concerned that U.S. Park Police may seize the tents and other property from the demonstrators at McPherson Square. The papers say police have previously taken property belonging to the protesters without notice and without giving them a chance to recover the items.

An order from a judge last month required the government to give the protesters 24-hour notice if it plans to enforce regulations prohibiting camping or sleeping in the square. But Jeffrey Light, a lawyer with the demonstrators, is asking for the government to be permanently prevented from removing tents.


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