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Rats, Water and Tug-of-War. How YOU Can Help OccupyDC

By       Message Jerry Nelson     Permalink
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PLEASE READ CAREFULLY.  AT THE CONCLUSION THERE IS A CONCRETE WAY YOU CAN HELP OCCUPYDC.

The wind howled down the concrete canyon of 14th street. Already a sustained wind of 30 mph, it increased in gusts to over 50 mph thanks to the Venturi effect created by the buildings. Turning the corner, the tsunami of air hit McPherson Square like a runaway freight train.

Pushed in front of the mass of air was a wall of water. As the wind drove the precipitation in front of it, the water was broken up from sheets of rain into small stinging needles. With the ambient air temperature already at a low of 25 degrees and a wind chill in the low teens, tiny icicles were formed the instant the frigid ocean of air hit hair or skin.

Thankfully, I was inside the tent. But as the wind reached down with invisible hands and peeled back the tarp and blew open the doorway, I might as well been outside naked on the sidewalk. Even inside the tent under two blankets and a sleeping bag, with one side of the tent completely open and exposed to the elements, I could still see the vapor as I breathed. I wasn't alone in feeling the perfect storm of winter as it crested and then broke in full fury onto OccupyDC. Tents were lifted into the air and then thrown back onto the ground with people inside. Smaller, empty tents were sent rolling across 15th street only to smash up against empty buildings.

As bad and as brutal as the night of December 12th was, it was only the latest in assaults seemingly aimed at dispersing OccupyDC.

OccupyDC has become the rope in a tug-of-war between the Washington DC and the federal governments. As the city government led by Mayor Vincent Gray has slowly removed resources from supporting McPherson Square, the National Parks Service has just as determinedly stood their legal ground as mandated by the US Supreme Court's ruling that our occupation of this federal park is legal and safe from eviction.

Unable and unwilling to challenge the full might of the nation's highest court, the city has been reduced to slowly chipping away at infrastructure put in place to house and protect the occupiers.

First to go were the pallets. Tents were initially set up on wooden pallets that served immediately as insulation from the wet ground. As winter moved in, the pallets also served as a foundation of sorts to keep sleepers from liying on the frigid earth with nothing but a micro-millimeter of nylon between them and the dirt.

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Next to leave were hot meals. Deeming the existence of generators and portable gas stoves unsafe, the DC health department removed the only means the occupiers had of cooking -- and then cited the encampment for not having a way to prepare hot food.

The health department wasn't done yet. Pointing out that there were no stainless steel surfaces on which to prepare even cold food, the kitchen was left with no choice other than to start dismantling and shut down.

Not being happy yet, the Health Department started releasing statements to the local papers that the "rat population has exploded in McPherson Square" due to the presence of OccupyDC. Many people have come along-side OccupyDC and have pointed out that yes, there are many rats in the park. Due though to the number of restaurants all around McPherson Square, there have ALWAYS been a larger number of rodents in the vicinity.

The latest development? Mayor Gray has joined with Congressman Issa (R -- California) in asking why hasn't OccupyDC been shut down yet.

If these two guys would just listen, they could hear the Supreme Court talking about such constitutionally protected issues as Freedom of Speech, Right to Assemble and Due Process. In the meantime, OccupyDC is committed to the cause of speaking out on behalf on the vanishing middle class.

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Go here to support Occupy DC.

 

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http://www.journeyamerica.org

Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publicaitons and news outlets including USAToday, CNN, Upsurge, CBS, Dream Row, Earthwalkers and others. He photographs and licenses images for all manner of commercial and editorial use as well as (more...)
 

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