The statue of Civil War General James B. McPherson, which sits in the center of the square in downtown D.C. that bears his name, was used by Occupy D.C. protesters today as the center pole for a “tent of dreams,” in rebellion against a National Park Service bar against sleeping in the park.
Inside and around the blue makeshift tent hundreds of Occupy D.C. supporters were chanting, singing, dancing and making it clear that the Occupy movement—even as it fights for the right to sleep overnight in McPherson Square—isn’t about to rest when it comes to its political and economic struggle.
The National Park Service had set a noon deadline for the Occupy supporters to end “camping” at the park, although protests could continue. But as of mid-afternoon today, Park Service police officers had yet to take any action.
However, on Sunday one Occupy D.C. supporter was tased by a u.S. Park Police officer. The video showed that while the protester was engaged in nonviolent resistance against the police, he was not engaged in threatening behavior that would justify use of a taser.
Eric Lotke, an Occupy D.C. supporter who was the former research director at the Campaign for America’s Future, signed a protest letter for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee protesting the U.S. Park Service moves against Occupy D.C., and in particular the Taser incident. As of noon today, the petition had gathered more than 15,000 signatures.
Lotke, in an interview, said that regardless of what the result of any action by the U.S. Park Police against the Occupy protesters, the movement is entering a new, more important phase. The attention to whether the protesters can sleep overnight, while important, “is a distraction from the real point,” he said. “The occupation is a momentary ‘Hey, we’ve got to do something,’ and is succeeding in getting people’s attention” and mobilizing people for the long-term work of remaking the economy and reclaiming our democracy for everyone.