Occupy D.C. Settles In

While the New York Review of Books offered their urbane gloss on things Zuccotti Park and you, Dear Reader, may be in the City to observe for yourselves, we turn to the twin occupy efforts in D.C. for a glimpse. The twin D.C. outposts present a unified facade to the casual inquirer, but pushing separate websites, general assembly meetings and the like show realities.

The Occupy D.C. outpost has grown about 15 tents. The library is much bigger. The National Park Service rules to obey in the park are encased in a plastic shell along walkways like at the National Air and Space Museum. Today at least, Occupy D.C. also features alot more young twenty somethings hanging out with their friends and video cameras. Occupy DC, Occupy D.C., OWS, Occupy Wall Street, We Are The 99% The interlopers are easy to spot and most, when a camera comes out, scoot or tell the Stiftung, “Please don’t take my picture, I am just visiting.” As with Facebook, the young seem less worried about privacy or the whole provocateur/police informant thing. At least they are there, adding their bio mass to protest The Man.

Occupy D.C. has people wise enough to explain tents and food are available to anyone willing to stay. They, however, are a far cry from Blake and ‘always be closing.’

Since our last visit the cardboard signs have multiplied. Occupy D.C. sends out emails hours ahead of time for a meet up and march to somewhere to protest, whether the nearby Chamber of Commerce or some bank. Those crowds remain modest but their commitment notable. Otherwise, like today, the place can look deserted except for the Stiftung and other tourists.

Freedom Plaza, October 2001, Occupy DCThe October 2001 Freedom Plaza encampment on Pennsylvania is still there, the earlier threat of police shutdown averted. The tents seem fewer although laid out to appear more numerous. Here, more than Occupy DC, the Stiftung catches glimpses of the old hard core anti-Vietnam War protest movement. Visible personnel at the information booth, etc. are silver haired and speak in Old Left code. The Stiftung pushes their buttons instinctively on sight and certainly by the questions we ask, which are a deliberately opaquely invasive nature. Particularly regarding some of their out of town protests against various facilities. Amusing to leave them thinking they’ve spotted and shut down The Man.

By contrast, the Occupy D.C. camp site has always had a softer, more welcoming Lollapalooza vibe – that a game of hacky sack might break out at any moment. One advantage October 2001/Freedom Plaza has over Occupy D.C. is that they don’t need generators. They are able to tap into local electricity grids. And the numerous hotels and other entertainment venues across the streets all offer various forms of free WiFi. As the weather worsens these kinds of things will loom large.

We still conclude it’s premature to proclaim OWS and its offspring have ‘changed the debate’ or more. Even granting that the City encampment is unique and we’ve yet to visit. Rather, our take is all of them around the world opened the door for possibilities. We’ve yet to see who or what steps through.


  1. jwb says

    It looks like a somewhat inept collusion of mayors is forcing a new phase of OWS. We’ll see if OWS can exploit the opportunity that has once again been handed to the movement.

  2. Comment says

    We’re part of the growing pro occupy but anti drum circle faction. Much better when guitars and strings play at Zucotti.

  3. Dr Leo Strauss says

    A small Occupy Boston faction briefly occupies lobby of the building housing the Israeli consulate for 15 minutes, chanting ‘hey hey, ho, ho, Israeli apartheid has got to go.’


    Proving that the classics can be remixed for today. Tempting to take the chant and put it on the MIDI trigger keyboards for some dance or dub step fun.

    The protestor introducing the video notes his major achievement was to prevent and Israeli security officer from grabbing his iPhone. No word whether it was a iPhone 4G S, so Siri might be asked ‘Is Bibi really the modern Churchill?’

    The commentator correctly notes that the Boston police apparently adopted the flexible DC police approach (car incident aside) and let it all unfold without permits and then everyone wrapped things up.

  4. sglover says

    This Friday being Armistice, er, “Veteran’s” Day, the civil servants will be out of town, and it might be possible to run a car downtown in something less than an hour. A good day to run supplies to the Occupy DC folks.

    I had an off-site training session just a couple of blocks from McPherson Square, so I had a convenient chance to stop by the ODC site and look around. I guess I’m far too jaded to credit the effort as an embryonic whole new form of society, but I do think their presence is crucial, now. And there are some encouraging signs of organization (organization by leftie protest standards): They/ve got a ragtag kitchen running, and the dishes actually get washed. (I did see a few bongos, by the way.)

    If nothing else, I give the Occupy folks a helluva lot of credit for fucking with the heads of our “serious” Pravda apparatchiks. A week or two ago, over the car radio, I got to listen to perennial gasbag Diane Rehm try to get her head around the thing while she questioned a couple of Occupy folks. She simply could not break out of a “But… so… Are they for Obama or not? If they’re not for Obama, what can they possibly intend?” Hilarious.

  5. DrLeoStrauss says

    N.B. The traffic incident with a small group of protestors and an automobile in D.C. plays a lot on local D.C. television and Twitter. Versions vary.

    A car in traffic hit a few protestors entering the street outside an Americans for Prosperity [sic] event a few days ago. D.C. police gave $30 tickets to the protestors and didn’t charge the driver.

    One of the protestors allegedly hit by the car later at a press opportunity proclaimed she did not need to pay attention to traffic signals before entering a street because drivers have an automatic duty to be aware of protestors’ rights to be heard. Not Occupy D.C.’s best public relations moment.

    Based on what we know from all sides, protestors, police and media, the $30 tickets are not completely an unreasonable outcome – and $30 tickets in D.C. are low, they love the $100 tickets or more.

    We weren’t there but the protestors’ attempt on TV to create ‘we were run down by a reckless driver’ narrative doesn’t seem to jibe with all the non-Occupy D.C. eyewitnesses and protestors’ own admissions.

    Twitter traffic plays very much the other way. The WaPo, which we’ve had fun with here recently, led much of the reporting. Here’s their take.


    The Occupy DC blog post (which is detailed and contains more facts) presents a more disturbing picture. Here the serial nature of the car’s impact on different protest clusters is clearly presented.


    Unfortunate all the way around. Thankfully no one hurt. This time.

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