Occupy protesters defend a structure they tried to construct in McPherson Square in December. Now, National Park Service officials say they will begin enforcing no-camping rule in the park.
While the National Park Service says it is preparing to enforce a no-camping ban at the Occupy DC tent city in McPherson Square, District government and business leaders remain concerned about the group's presence downtown.
The city has "played host to hundreds of uninvited guests" and "it is well past time that this illegal protest moves on," D.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO Barbara Lang said in a blog post this week. Lang cited the costs to the city and the businesses that surround McPherson Square as negative impacts of the four-month-long protest.
D.C. Mayor Gray also reiterated his call to at least temporarily move the protesters at McPherson to the other Occupy site at Freedom Plaza so the city could clean up the downtown park.
Gray says D.C. has been extremely accommodating to the protesters so far, noting that there have been not been mass arrests and evictions in D.C. as there have been at other cities' protests.
"We haven't behaved in that fashion toward them, we have simply been making this a constructive experience that observes their constitutional rights but it also observes legitimate health and safety concerns that we have in this city," says Gray.
While the Park Service says it will soon crack down on camping at McPherson the agency says it will not try a full-scale eviction, noting the constitutional right for protesters to hold a 24-hour vigil on federal parkland.