US

Judge Says Occupy DC Campers Must Be Given Fair Warning Before They're Evicted

“If we do cooperate on the Tent of Dreams, maybe they’ll relax the standards on stuff like the no-camping rule."

WASHINGTON (The Blaze/AP) -- A federal judge said Tuesday that the U.S. government must notify one of the last major Occupy encampments if it intends to clear a downtown park of protesters.

The decision from U.S. District Judge James Boasberg means the protesters will have an opportunity to challenge their eviction beforehand.

Protesters remained Tuesday at McPherson Square, the city's main Occupy site, a day after the National Park Service began enforcing a ban on camping on federal park grounds. Officials have not said when or if they will clear the park of protesters, though a lawyer for the government said in court Tuesday that she was unaware of any imminent plans to do that.

Watch the Huffington Post report with footage of the protesters on Monday:

The U.S. Park Police would, however, be permitted to clear the park without notice if there's an emergency or urgent health concern. D.C. health officials and Mayor Vincent Gray have cited a rat infestation in McPherson Square as a continuing concern.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marina Braswell said authorities did not plan to seize the tents of protesters who are complying with the camping ban, which prohibits the use of bedding materials, and other laws.

Jeffrey Light, a lawyer who is representing two of the protesters and is seeking class action status for his case, argued that the National Park Service does not have clear standards for deciding when and how to seize tents and how to ensure that seized belongings are returned to their owners. But Braswell said those concerns were hypothetical because she said there's no evidence that protesters' property has been destroyed.

"The plaintiffs have supplied no evidence that anyone has tried to get property back from the Park Police and has been unable to do so," she said.

Protesters appeared to expect a confrontation after the park service announced on Friday that it would enforce the camping ban, effective noon Monday. A sign advertised a "high noon" showdown, though that never happened. The demonstrators put up a blue tarp over most of a statue of Major Gen. James McPherson, a Civil War general for whom the park is named, and gathered underneath the tent.

Here is footage showing the tent, which is being called "The Tent of Dreams", and protesters voicing their thoughts on the ban:

The "Tent of Dreams" was requested by authorities to be taken down yesterday. The Washington Post states that occupiers are discussing this afternoon whether they will take down the tarp:

Sam Jewler, an unofficial spokesman and protester with the McPherson contingent, said he was unsure whether the group would decide to remove the tent.

“If we do cooperate on the Tent of Dreams, maybe they’ll relax the standards on stuff like the no-camping rule,” he said.

Watch this clip taken Monday where protesters are saying that making them leave won't be done easily:

Related: On Sunday, police used a stun gun on an Occupy DC protester who was tearing down fliers alerting others to the ban on camping.

One last thing…
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