Police Raze Occupy DC Shelter

After an extended showdown that began around noon Sunday, police in Washington, D.C., succeeded in destroying a wooden structure Occupy DC protesters had erected in McPherson Square to provide shelter throughout the winter.

Police arrested 31 people in total—15 for crossing a police line and 16 for disobeying a lawful order, according to police spokesman Sergeant David Schlosser. The last protester, who climbed onto the top of the structure and held up an American flag, was forcibly removed by police in a cherry picker around 9 P.M. He faces additional charges for indecent exposure and public urination after urinating off the roof. "Who do you work for? Who do you serve?" chanted the crowd as officers placed the lone holdout in a harness. He was hailed on twitter as a hero: "When David relieved himself off the roof, he was simply showing how trickle down economics works," wrote Dave Storup, an Occupy DC sympathizer.

Schlosser said the D.C. building inspector's office had determined the structure to be unsafe. There are currently no plans to remove the rest of the encampment, Schlosser said, though police tagged each of the few dozen tents in the park with numbers.

"You don't go to Iraq to watch YouTube videos of protesters getting beaten up," said 21-year-old Michael Patterson, one of the Occupy DC protesters who was arrested earlier in the afternoon. Patterson says one of the D.C. police officers had instructed one of his colleagues to taser him, but the officer refused.

Patterson and other protesters were given $100 tickets before being released late Sunday night.

As the bulldozer razed the Occupy DC structure, a group of bystanders across the street cheered on the sidewalk, "Tear it down, tear it down."

Despite the large police presence, which included dozens of officers, a fleet of vehicles, and the closure of the street in front of McPherson Square, there were no reported injuries in the confrontation. In fact, the lack of violence between police and protesters sets Occupy DC apart from its counterparts in New York and Oakland. In his statement to the press, Schlosser pointed out that the U.S. Park Police frequently deals with constitutionally protected spaces and said that might be why the D.C. encampment showdown involved less friction than others.

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