D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray has a plan to cover the $1.6 million cost of hosting the Occupy DC protesters since October: pass the bill on to the federal government.
On Thursday, the mayor said in an interview with NewsChannel 8 that the extra cost of policing McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza was not something factored into the District's budget. The city does have cash set aside for protests, but does not have "this kind of money," he said.
While other cities around the county have been expunging Occupy demonstrators through police action, the District has handled its camps with a light touch. D.C. has avoided the kind of violence seen in Oakland and New York City, but the mostly hands-off approach has allowed the camp to linger in the heart of downtown Washington, frustrating local business.
Gray hinted that the clock may be running down for the Occupy DC movement last week, telling Tom Sherwood in an interview that the public was "losing patience."
Gray said on News4's Viewpoint program, "We support their right, of course, to exercise their First Amendment right. But at the same time we will not tolerate the breaking of the law.“
Despite the rhetoric, the city has yet to send protesters an eviction notice. Which means the bill that Mayor Gray plans on handing to the federal government is still going up.