Building New Structures on K Street

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–December 4, 2011.  Last night, Occupy K Street-DC erected a wooden structure, a “People’s Pavilion,” at their main encampment in McPherson Square. According to Occupiers, the structure will be used as a warm place (designed to be heated by a novel sustainable energy source: water bottles that collect and store solar heat) for General Assemblies, teach-ins, and other community building purposes.

They have also said that the structure represents the needs of the 99% who are being left houseless by economic inequality. The People’ Pavilion is a symbol of all homes stolen by banks and corporate greed, right on K Street — in front of the Wall Street lobbyists who buy the politicians on Capitol Hill. Or, as one Occupier said:

We built this to represent broader problems in society. Millions cannot afford housing and are literally dying. The government is not providing social services. It’s time for the people to do it.”

The wooden structure was specifically designed by architects to be safe and to comply with DC regulations, and meets the “temporary structure” standard. It is “prefabricated, modular and mobile structure – legally similar to the tents.” It lacks a foundation and can be taken down in under an hour. As such, it does not violate city ordinances. According to @OccupyKSt,

This structure is our way of escalating without being destructive; you can “smash” the status quo without smashing anything. #occupydc

This morning, police arrived and ordered the structure to be removed. They gave OccupyDC one hour to disassemble it. The Occupiers began holding an emergency General Assembly to decide what to do. Some were prepared to take down the structure, while the majority seemed in favor of civil disobedience. The GA was unable to reach consensus before the police moved in to attack all those left inside. Many willing Occupiers stayed within the structure to defend it, while a crowd of hundreds has gathered at McPherson Square.

Live Updates

  • 7:19pm: First roofers arrested using cherry picker and harnesses. 3 remain.
  • 6:28pm: Police using the armored personnel carrier to go after the protesters on the roof. The protesters move to the highest tip on the structure. Crowd mic checks “we got your back” to the protesters and chant “we are the 99%, and so are you!” to the police.
  • 6:28pm: Occupiers mic check the 1st amendment and ask police not to follow their orders. Chants: “This is What Community Looks Like!”, “Stay Strong!” At least 26 people have been arrested today so far. Police allowed for a prolonged stand off and moved in to make most arrests after nightfall. The majority of the supporters present are being kept behind a police line, and only those by the structure are being arrested.
  • 6:25pm: Police put inflatable cushion below the structure. Cherry picker and SWAT armored personnel vehicle spotted.
  • 6:19pm: Police shift change. New cops brought out.
  • 6:02pm: All people on the ground at the structure have been arrested. Only six people left, all on the roof.
  • 5:54pm: First arrests being made. Some are being carried away and carted off. Mic check: “We are holding the line in DC!”
  • 5:44pm: 3rd warning given. Protesters issue their own warning to the police asking them to vacate immediately. Others say “We’re not leaving!” and chant “Occupy Wall Street, Occupy K Street, Occupy Everywhere and Never Give it Back!”
  • 5:42pm: 2nd warning given. Protesters lay down. More move to the roof. Chant outside: “Let them stay!”
  • 5:40pm: 1st warning of arrest given. Supporters toss food to the occupiers on top of the Pavilion and shout “We love you!”
  • 5:30pm: Protesters mic check the police code of honor, directed at the police. Others chant “let them stay!” Some protesters run across police line to join those inside the structure.
  • 5:17pm: Police armed with pepper spray have lowered their visors and shields after speaking to superiors. As darkness moves in, 100s continue to rally.
  • 5:14pm: Legal observer who spoke to police spokesperson says she has footage of their conversation and wants to put it on YouTube. She says the police were negotiating in bad faith.
  • 4:44pm: After only 5 minutes, the city inspector has condemned the building. Livestreamer: “They condemned this before the Occupiers even built it.” (Many have since questioned whether the inspector was actually a city employee at all.)
  • 4:39pm: Protesters have negotiated with police. Occupiers stated they are confident it is a legal structure; police disagree. However, they will allow a city inspector to come see if it is “safe.” Protesters say they are not giving up on the structure, but are making a good faith effort to cooperate with the city and keep the situation legal and nonviolent.
  • 4:00pm: Several peaceful protesters remain inside the building, others on the roof below a DC flag reading “Taxation Without Representation.” Police still surrounding them, using horses to push back crowd and endanger on lookers. Reports that they may try to use a crane to remove them.
  • 3:56pm: Mainstream media ordered by police across the street, where their ability to witness and document the arrests are blocked by tents.
  • 3:46pm: Police are armed with pepper spray. Reports of rubber bullets also seen (but not used).
  • 3:35pm: Police have put up barricades around the People’s Pavilion. Using horses inside the structure to run people out.
  • 2:35pm: Other supporters are attempting to get items (such as warm coats) to the people inside the structure.
  • 2:30pm: Four protesters from the crowd tried to cross the police line to support the people inside the Pavilion. They were tackled, punched, and arrested by the aggressive police. Another protester walked up to the police line and was nonviolently arrested in solidarity with them. MIC CHECK: “‘I’m just doing my job’ is never a valid excuse for violence!”
  • 1:15pm: A SWAT team has also been spotted.
  • 1:09pm: Even though only the federal Park Police have jurisdiction in McPherson, the Metropolitan Police have also set up a line of riot cops nearby. 15th St reportedly blocked off, traffic bad all around.
  • 12:03pm: Occupy DC mic-checking their reasons for staying: We are challenging systems of oppression in solidarity with people who are most marginalized by inequality, uniting to recognize that economic exploitation impacts all of us, reclaiming public space, practicing direct democracy. The system is broken; we’re building a new one.
  • 12:01pm: While helmeted riot police on horses look on, police have attacked the nonviolent protesters who are continuing to occupy the People’s Pavilion. Protesters are chanting “shame” and “the whole world is watching.”
  • 11:59am: “Whose barn? Our barn!” “This is a nonviolent protest!”
  • 11:55am: “Show me what a police state looks like! This is what a police state looks like! Solidarity forever!”
  • 11:52am: At least one arrest reported for “crossing an invisible police line.”
  • 11:49am: Police (some on horses) are setting up a line around the structure and moving in, threatening all (including media) with arrest. Protesters are chanting, “we are nonviolent” and giving out legal advice and numbers for those who may be arrested.
  • 11:46am: Now at least five people on top of roof.
  • 11:44am: Media on-hand. Police continue to be aggressive. GA now mic-checking the significance and reasons the structure was created: “We built this to represent broader problems in society. Millions cannot afford housing and are literally dying. The government is not providing social services. It’s time for the people to do it.”
  • 11:42am: Police have no informed them they will be arrested if they remain. One Occupier says, “I’m okay with that!” Another adds, “this structure represents civil disobedience. We are evoking our 1st amendment rights.” The crowd begins to use the people’s mic to read the recently GA approved Declaration of Occupy DC.
  • 11:31am: The majority of the emergency GA seems to be in favor of keeping the People’s Pavilion. Police have given a deadline of 12:00pm and formed two lines around them.
  • 11:27am: One Occupier has climbed to the top of the structure and began leading the crowd in chants of “Whose park? Our park!” and “We are unstoppable, another world is possible”

structure in DC