31 Arrests Over Occupy DC Structure

Police say protesters have dismantled the 30-foot-high wooden structure in McPherson Square

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police in D.C. arrested Occupy DC campers in McPherson Square after a wooden shed was erected Sunday.

    Police tied ropes around several Occupy DC protesters and plucked them off the roof of a temporary structure in the McPherson Square on Sunday night, capping a contentious day between law enforcement and demonstrators.

    At the end of Sunday night, 31 had been taken into police custody.

    The clash was set off by an approximately 20-foot-high structure, built by protesters overnight Saturday without a permit.  Park Police declared the shack-like structure a safety hazard and ordered it removed Sunday.

    Spokesperson Sgt. David Schlosser told News4: "Park Police and the National Park Service firmly support people's first amendment rights to assemble and to seek redress from their government.  In this instance, the issue is a life safety issue, the structural integrity of the building."

    The Occupy DC group insisted that the structure, constructed out of plywood and 2x4's, met health and safety requirements.

    The City Paper's Lydia DePillis reports that one of the structure's architects, Cecelia Azerduy, dubbed it "the People's Pentagon."

    In a statement, Occupy DC called the shed, "a prefabricated wooden structure ... designed by professional architects and engineers to provide shelter, warmth and space for General Assemblies during the winter months."

    On Sunday morning, Park Police gave protesters one hour to dismantle the structure, but their request was initially refused. A few protesters began scuffling with police, after which several arrests were made. Officers on horseback were also seen pushing the crowd back.

    By the end of Sunday night, authorities charged 15 with crossing a police line.  Sixteen people were charged with disobeying an official order.

    Late Sunday, six people who refused to leave the wooden shed had to be removed from the top of the structure with a cherry picker truck.  One of the protesters was charged with urinating off of a structure, indecent exposure and resisting arrest.

    Several protesters left the top of the structure by diving through the air on to an inflatable cushion set up by police.

    In total, 31 were taken into custody.

    On Monday morning, a larger-than-normal police presence was visible in the park.