The ranks of the Occupy DC movement are a little bit larger after a small group of protesters completed a two-week trek from Wall Street to Washington Tuesday.
Drenched from the rain, and bone-tired after walking more than 230 miles, the group was treated to warm applause and spicy chili as they arrived in McPherson Square.
"How was the walk? The walk was the most amazing experience of my life," says Bo Hahn, his voice hoarse. He walked the entire way, chanting and participating in the group's human microphone.
Hahn doesn’t know how long the protesters plan to stay in D.C., but their arrival coincides with an uncertain time. For more than a month, protesters camped out at McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza have worked hand-in-hand with police. Last Thursday’s protest at the Key Bridge, for example, was cleared ahead of time with police, who emptied the streets as the demonstrators marched. In turn, the protestors promised to keep traffic flowing on the bridge.
But things have also gotten tense in recent weeks. Protesters were outraged at the lack of police response after a several of their ranks were injured in an alleged hit-and-run outside of the Washington Convention Center Nov. 12, and last Saturday, a group inspired by Occupy DC, took over the Franklin School, a former homeless shelter, leading to more than a dozen arrests.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray immediately criticized the Franklin protesters' actions.
"The behavior they engaged in was illegal. They destroyed some of the parts of the door that will have to be repaired," Gray say. "It was illegal and inappropriate and will not be tolerated."
Unlike some of his counterparts in other cities, Gray so far has not suggested the parks where the protesters are staying need to be cleaned up or cleared out. But if authorities were hoping the camps would thin out as the temperature dropped, it looks like the opposite may be happening, as Occupy protesters around the country turn their attention to D.C.