Occupy DC, police trade charges of violence at McPherson Square
Updated: February 6, 2012 - 07:28 pm
UPDATE: Authorities in Washington are now saying an Occupy D.C. protestor threw a liquid-filled soda bottle, not a brick, at a U.S. Park Police officer over the weekend.
Court documents available Monday say the demonstrator, Jeremiah Desausa, threw the Coke bottle Saturday. Authorities say he resisted arrest and was subdued with a Taser. He later said he hadn't intended to hit anyone.
Occupy D.C. protesters are planning their next move Monday morning after U.S. Park Police officers made multiple sweeps through McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza over the weekend.
At least three protesters were in the square early Monday, and they told ABC7's Brianne Carter that about 100 Occupiers are staying in churches, hotels or private residences in the area.
Protesters met last night, they say, to discuss regrouping, while several tents still remain in the park that has been swarmed with protesters since last October.
Protester Eric Gustabon's make-shift library is among the few structures still standing in the square.
"I spent the whole night, watching them tearing apart what I helped build, and I was very, I was about to get not nice… but I didn't," Gustabon said.
While most of the tents are gone, the tenacity of the protestors remains strong.
Nearly a dozen arrested over the weekend
Authorities say 11 people were arrested in McPherson Square since officers began clearing away tents from one of the nation's last remaining Occupy sites on Saturday.
U.S. Park Police spokesman David Schlosser said Sunday that one of those arrested was charged with felony assault on a police officer and assault with a deadly weapon. The man, Jeremiah Desousa, is due in D.C. Superior Court on Monday, Schlosser said.
The officer was treated at a hospital. Three others were charged with assault on a police officer.
Protesters lay blame on police
But Occupy D.C. protesters said the violence came from police.
"Instead of maintaining a productive line of communication between demonstrators and law enforcement, the Park Police relied on a diversity of extralegal intimidation tactics," Occupy D.C. says in a statement released Saturday night. "At least one demonstrator was knocked unconscious, and countless more were bruised and beaten from indiscriminate, wanton police aggression."
The protesters vowed to continue their movement and urged followers to remain nonviolent.
On Sunday, officers shifted their focus to Freedom Plaza. Park police went to lengths to explain what they intended to do and their objective.
They aimed to avoid violence. Some here in Freedom Plaza say they are working better with the authorities than demonstrators at other locations.
"They feel like they are getting a lot of cooperation from this group and they are getting it now," said Ann Wilcox, an advocate for Occupy D.C.
Freedom Plaza camp shrinks
The number of tents and demonstrators in Freedom Plaza has shrunk over the winter. Inspectors went through the tents to determine whether they violated the rules.
Inspectors tagged tents which posed a health threat, had camping gear or which sat on platforms. If no one claimed items, the police removed them along with bags of trash.
Occupy D.C. says their attorney, Jeffrey Light, is exploring legal measures to take against the Park Police.
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