Riot police surround Occupy DC camp


Police in riot gear surrounded an anti-Wall Street protesters’ camp in downtown Washington early Saturday in apparent preparation for a crackdown against the Occupy DC encampment. About 50 riot police officers — some of them on horseback — surrounded McPherson Square in the pre-dawn hours, but refrained from immediate action. Most nearby streets were cordoned off by police vehicles.
However, the so-called “Tent of Dreams” that draped the statue at the center of the square was peacefully taken down and carefully folded by protesters. Also removed was a mask the occupiers had put on the statue. According to media reports, police planned to search tents in the encampment later this morning to remove all sleeping gear inside them, but not the protesters themselves.
A police official told the group, “We are not here to evict,” but to check to see if protesters are complying with no-camp rules.
Under National Park Service regulations, demonstrations are allowed on the service’s property, but people are barred from sleeping there.
Last month, the service, which controls the square, said it would start enforcing a ban on camping in the park, after tolerating the open-ended encampment from the outset. But no specific date was given.
Occupy DC is the most visible of the few remaining camps that sprouted in US cities in September and October in protest against economic inequality and big-business influence on politics.