Washington protesters aligned with the Occupy Wall Street movement said they plan to build another place to hold meetings in bad weather after U.S. Park Police tore down a plywood shelter near the White House.
“We are going to regroup, think of alternatives and move ahead with a plan,” said John Zangas, 52, who said he has lived with the protesters for seven weeks. “We need a symbol of our permanency here.”
Police arrested 31 people yesterday in a confrontation with Occupy DC demonstrators in McPherson Square, about three blocks north of the executive mansion. Hundreds have been arrested in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and other cities since the protests began in Manhattan on Sept. 17.
Occupy DC’s garage-like building was erected Dec. 3 for community meetings in foul weather, Zangas said in an interview at the park. Forecasters predict overnight temperatures in the low- to mid-30s Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) this week. The protesters plan to meet tonight to develop alternative ideas for a structure that may meet with police approval, he said.
“This is not a blow to us,” Zangas said. “We’re not a bunch of kids who will head home because the police took our toys.”
Authorities removed the shelter because of safety concerns, said David Schlosser, a spokesman for the Park Police.
“They would be best served by working with the National Park Service and by obtaining a permit,” he said.
One of those arrested, Ben Faure, 19, of Wichita, Kansas, said he was part of the “barn raising” that erected the shelter. He said he was fined $100 and released without being jailed.
“I helped build the barn and it mattered to me that it stay there,” Faure said. “Confronting the police was worth it to me.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Carol Wolf in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org