National Park Service Tells OccupyDC It’s Time To Go

After months of complaints from city residents, business owners, and Members of Congress, the National Park Service is finally going to enforce the rules against overnight camping in McPherson Park:

After four months in McPherson Park, the National Park Service says the camp-out is over.

On Friday, the Park Service began distributing flyers to demonstrators in Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square advising them to pack up their sleeping bags and remove their camping gear from the park by Monday at noon or face arrest.

The flyer reads:

“This communication serves as notice that, on or about noon, January 30, 2012, the United States Park Police will commence enforcement of the long-standing National Park Service (NPS) regulations that prohibit camping and the use of temporary structures for camping in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza.  The NPS has repeatedly advised participants in both parks of the camping regulations, and had sought voluntary compliance.   On or about noon, January 30, 2012, if camping violations are observed, individual violators may be subject to arrest and their property subject to seizure as evidence.  Any temporary structure used for camping also will be subject to seizure as an abatement of a public nuisance, and may be reclaimed by the property owner between the hours of 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. at the Park Police D-1 Station located at 960 Ohio Drive, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024, if done within the 60 days.

The Park Service said that protesters are permitted to continue their demonstrations at the two locations, but they will no longer be allowed to camp overnight at the locations.  Temporary structures can stay inside the park, as long as no one is using them as living accommodations.

“The National Park Service takes very seriously its tradition of providing opportunities for First Amendment activities,” said Bob Vogel, Superintendent of the National Mall and Memorial Parks. “We have a long history spanning several decades of 24-hour First Amendment vigils.”

The National Park Service said demonstrators who want to stay will have to do two things: 1) remove all camping material, and 2) leave one side of all temporary structures open at all times “to ensure public health and safety and to allow NPS personnel to monitor compliance.”

The decision comes just over two weeks after District health officials discovered a rat infestation at the encampment. One wonders what took them so long.

Photo via The Washington Examiner

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    The Occupy Movement has already made its point, as the close examination of Romney and his wealth make clear…

  2. Hey Norm says:

    @ Doug…
    That’s interesting. Obama’s SOTU was essentially the OWS message. Do you think the Parks Service will kick him out of the White House for hosting Drum Circles???

  3. @Hey Norm:

    As with any incumbent politician, the grounds for his eviction should be incompetence

  4. john personna says:

    The seem to have timed their arc, with inequality becoming a 2012 issue, even within the GOP.

  5. Delmar says:

    You can see in the photo what a huge mess that they have made. Yes, it is time for them to get back to school or back to their parent’s basement so they can resume playing video games and eating pizza.
    I also thought that permits were needed to camp on government property unless it is a park where camping is already permitted.

  6. Jenos Idanian says:

    The decision comes just over two weeks after District health officials discovered a rat infestation at the encampment.

    That was obvious to most people from day one… the news was the discovery of the four-legged variant.

  7. walt moffett says:

    Since there’s no possibility of disrupting the SOTU speech, every one’s back from leave, now seems as good as any to enforce the rules.

  8. jd says:

    I can’t tell you how proud I am of the OWS people and their variations across America. I’ve had a chance to visit them at Occupy Tampa and have been impressed with their organization and industriousness within their compound. It’s good to see the youth of this country taking their rights in hand and exercising them. Believe me, it’s far more satisfying than blogging about them. It inspired my wife and me to protest with the students at the Republican Debate at USF. What a hoot! I even got a chance to tell Terry Jones to get lost!