Late Saturday night, the 3ed of December, Occupy DC began erecting a "People's Pavillion" that could have provided better shelter from the coming winter, had it ever been fully enclosed.
The Park Police had other ideas, and beginning at noon on Sunday, the 4th of December placed the structure under siege. It took the police until around 8PM to arrest the last protesters on the roof, and another hour before they were able to demolish it.
The first arrests took place in the early afternoon. I heard conflicting reports of 6 arrests, 12 arrests, or more. There was a report that one of the arrests involved considerable police violence.
This led to an all-day standoff. In mid to late afternoon police laid metal pens to supplement the yellow taped police lines marking off the section of McPherson Square the cops were holding. They then made a critical mistake: They laid pens well back from the yellow tape at the point where Occupy DC was strongest-and the original police line fell as the crowd surged forward to the new barricades, creating a deep bulge in police lines.
Until the "battle of the bulge," it was very difficult to resupply the protesters holding the wooden structure due to the distance. Only an expert throw could get the range and not be intercepted. After the bulge, almost all throws were completions, some of them caught directly out of the air by hungry occupiers. The police hopes to starve out the structure occupation were thus dashed.
There were now a useless set of "negotiations" and police brought a building inspector who "condemned" the building citing the thickness of the vertical supports. Had these been steel I-beams, another excuse would surely have been found to slao an orange condemnation sticker on the structure. All efforts to bring in a building inspector not controlled by the police were rebuffed. In my opinion it is pointless to attempt to negotiate with police, as they are trained to lie!
After the usual three warnings, the cops arrested the ground crew inside the structure around 6 or 6:30, but were unable to reach the people on the roof.
Around sunset, one armored vehicle was ostentatiously moved to 15th and I sts, barely within sight of most of the park. About 30 people were detached to block it in on 15th st and prevent it from entering the park. This diversion permitted a second, smaller armored vehicle and a cherry picker to approach from another direction.
In addition, a large "jumper's mattress" and the air blower to inflate it were brought into the park. The air blower was mistaken for a tear gas dispensing device, causing every protester who had any form of chemical protective gear to either don it or keep it very close. All the protesters on the roof appeared to have breathing masks and eye protection on at this time, expecting an attempt to gas them out. Instead the blower was simply used to inflate the "matteress."
An atttempt to get onto the roof, wich was only timber beams and NOT yet covered failed. The second armored vehicle was brought alongside, but the police were unable or unwilling to cross from it onto the open roof skeleton and risk breaking their necks.
The cherry picker was next. Two protesters came down into the mattress, but the rest moved to the ridegepole, the highest point of the structure, maybe 25 feet or more in the air. The cherry picker had difficulty getting into position, and the cops had difficulty removing non-cooperating protesters with it, at one point appearing to nearly drop a flailing protester, then backing off before coming back for the last two.
The very last protester mounted a dogged defense of the flag of the structure occupiers, tying himself to the roof beams. Cops cut him loose once, only to have him reposition to put some body parts over and some under wooden beams-and apparently tie in again. The flag flew and "Fortress Occupy" held out until the Park Police finally and with great difficulty removed the last defender at around 7:30 or 8 PM.
Around an hour later a forklift was used to smash the structure down. As the forklift smashed and twisted the structure, it held together while part of it lifted off the ground, proving that it had no underlying foundation and thus was not a "permanent structure" in the park and also was soiundly engineered and not an unsafe struture either.
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