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Congress Probes Conditions At Occupy DC

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A view of the Occupy encampment in December. City health officials are concerned about an ongoing rat infestation in McPherson Square.
Matt Laslo
A view of the Occupy encampment in December. City health officials are concerned about an ongoing rat infestation in McPherson Square.

Some lawmakers critical of the Occupy Wall Street movement are expected to grill National Park Service officials today on why protesters have been allowed to remain in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza in downtown D.C.

The hearing today on two "Occupy" protest encampments in downtown D.C, before the a U.S. House oversight subcommittee, will include testimony from National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and city officials.  

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier will be asked what impact policing the encampments at Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square has had on her ability to deploy officers throughout the District, according to Associated Press. She'll also be asked if crime has increased in and around the sites. D.C. health officials will discuss the public health ramifications of the rat infestations at both sites.

Park Service officials will be asked why the protesters have been allowed to remain, in spite of prohibitions on camping on National Park Service property. In the past, park service officials have said protesters can maintain a 24-hour vigil, and that their First Amendment rights must be protected. 

District health officials say the square a has become infested with rats in the four months since protesters affiliated with the occupy wall street movement have pitched their tents here. 

Occupy participants say they are willing to work with District health officials to address any problems.

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