Defiant anti-Wall Street protesters in Washington vow to hold their ground.
They set up a so-called “Tent of Dreams” at one location, as police ordered a midday deadline for them to remove their belongings from two camps in the nation’s capitol.
The deadline passed without incident.
A protester, wearing the Guy Fawkes mask that has become so popular with the movement, said:
“They were supposed to start evicting at noon, but nothing has happened yet. So, who knows.”
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Another D.C. resident and protester commented:
“I’m not sure what might happen. We’re just here making a positive statement that we have dreams and we would like to see them realized. And I know the press likes to focus on certain dramatic elements other than that, but what this movement – at least for me – what it’s really about is the positive statement: We do believe a better world is possible.”
In its first challenge to the demonstrators, the U.S. National Park Service said last week it would enforce a ban at noon against sleeping in camps where Occupy protesters have been living since October. It ordered sleeping bags, pillows and other gear removed, but said tents may remain as a protest symbol if flaps stayed open.
U.S. Parks Police Sergeant, David Schlosser, says:
“It’s our goal that we can have everybody exercise their First Amendment rights. But they must also be able to do so in a manner that’s healthy and safe in this environment.”
While police have shut down similar Occupy protests against social and economic inequality in other U.S. cities, the demonstrations in the capital have benefited from an unusually warm winter and a permissive approach by federal authorities reluctant to provoke confrontation.
Protesters are targeting the growing income gap, corporate greed and what they see as unfair tax structure favoring the richest 1% of Americans.