Freedom Plaza Protesters Vow To Stay Beyond Permit (UPDATE)
WASHINGTON -- The sanctioned dance party in Freedom Plaza may have ended at 10 p.m. Sunday but the "Stop the Machine" protest and ongoing encampment continued on into the night. (UPDATE, see below: The protest permit may not have technically expired at 10 p.m. Sunday, as demonstrators had thought.)
Although the permit for the four-day demonstration ended, members of the group, who met in a General Assembly at 6 p.m., determined to stay put in the plaza adjacent to the Willard InterContinental and J.W. Marriott hotels, the District of Columbia's city hall and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. During the meeting, many raised their hands indicating the would risk arrest by staying.
About five minutes after 10 p.m., the dancing continued with bongo drums, and chants of "Hell no we won't go" and "The people, united will never be defeated." Amplified music continued again after 10:30 p.m. and protest organizers livestreamed the festivities.
As the dance party continued, there were no signs of large numbers of police forces assembling near Freedom Plaza to shut the demonstration down. As of 11 p.m., the number of television crews outnumbered police cruisers. Adjacent to Freedom Plaza on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, tents from the weekend's Taste of D.C. food festival were being disassembled.
Late Sunday night, there were roughly 30 tents pitched on the plaza, with scores more in sleeping bags assembled near clusters of political signs, banners and a mini-shantytown meant to represent the seriousness of the nation's foreclosure crisis.
Meanwhile, six blocks away at McPherson Square, a group of Occupy DC protesters, perhaps 30 to 45 in total remain camped out with others milling about in the square. Those protesters, separate from the Freedom Plaza encampment, have been in McPherson Square for eight days. Sunday evening, there were calls for donations of tarps and rain gear, to prepare for rain that's in the forecast for mid-week.
UPDATE, 6:47 a.m.: According to WJLA-TV, the Freedom Plaza permit may not have technically expired at 10 p.m. Sunday, as protesters had thought. Extra time is built into the permit to "allow the demonstrators to break down their stage and other equipment."
The Huffington Post's Hayley Miller contributed reporting.
WATCH: "Stop the Machine" in Freedom Plaza