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At Freedom Plaza on Sunday, several dozen protesters calmly watched police go through tents from behind barriers, occasionally chanting and singing. Two pulled up lawn chairs to watch the inspection. There was one arrest in connection with alleged felony threats to a police officer — but the atmosphere was largely tranquil.
“We didn’t want those huge crowds or negative interaction with cops,” said Freedom Plaza protester Ann Wilcox. “It’s better if police can do the job and get it done as quickly as possible.”
The Park Police’s camping ban prohibits sleeping in the park and storing bedding in tents. Tents that didn’t comply were removed. Police said they also removed tents with materials deemed biohazards.
Freedom Plaza was largely intact, with most tents still standing, when police stopped taking down tents early Sunday evening. Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said many in the camp had already voluntarily complied with the ban.
This may actually end up being the smartest, easiest way of ushering protesters out. At least for the Park Service. They can go in and make the occasional sweep to make sure people aren’t sleeping in tents, getting rid of a few tents each time. The slow creep may be frustrating for protesters and the people who want them gone yesterday, but the Park Service has seemed disinterested in breaking things up from the very beginning; this way, at least, they can avoid too much drama.
Photo by Lydia DePillis