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Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue: San Diego Event Planner Organizes Latest D.C. Protest

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WASHINGTON -- The third planned occupation of the nation's capital, Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue, has an unusually restrictive set of rules.

The protest, which will hold forth in Lafayette Square across the street from the White House, won't allow camping. Signs, banners and placards will be permitted, but must have "dull ends" and be "made entirely of wood." Filming and photography will be strictly regulated: "[I]mages, audio or video taken from the event may not be redistributed without written permission."

Patrick Schneider, the organizer of Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue, doesn't see any conflict in a demonstration related to the other Occupy protests -- focused as they are on civil liberties and good government -- that would seemingly limit First Amendment freedoms like taking photos.

"I'm an event planner by trade and also work in radio," he said. "So organizing the media is ... For me, the thing has to function. Not controlling the media. But directing them in the direction where we can help them the best. If someone comes out and they just want to take a couple of pictures and put it on their website, I don't have a problem with that. If it's for commercial use or any media company, that's the only thing this is regarding. This is the way a lot of things are done, like a football game."

(How Schneider intends to prevent the media or anybody else who lacks his permission from taking pictures of a public protest is unclear.)

A $500 donation through the Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue website will earn the donor a performance from Trick The DJ. That's Schneider, who usually lives in San Diego and has a small team helping him out there, he said, although he's alone in D.C. No one has made a $500 donation yet.

Schneider arrived in Washington on Monday with the idea that Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue might get through to elected officials.

"We felt like politicians are largely responsible for the way things are in the world," he said, sounding not unlike the participants in the city's two other occupations, Occupy DC in McPherson Square and Stop the Machine in Freedom Plaza (which is adjacent to Pennsylvania Avenue). "There's a lot of problems with war and social issues. We felt like it should be taken to Pennsylvania Avenue."

In addition to Lafayette Square, Schneider plans to bring Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue to the West Front Lawn of the U.S. Capitol and nearby Upper Senate Park.

Schneider has permits allowing him to set up stages in these parks during the daytime (they have to be taken down at night). He's going to open the microphone up to anyone who wants to speak. He's thinking of having bands on the weekends. He's reaching out to politicians to address Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue -- Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and Ohio congressional candidate Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher are two he has in mind.

Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue is for demonstrators who find D.C.'s other protests too left-wing, Schneider said. And this protest is going to follow all applicable laws, he said, so that people who feel like other occupations are too dangerous and too likely to lead to arrest will also have a venue.

There are other notable differences between his protest and the others: Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue is not leaderless. Schneider is the leader. He is not planning to hold the general assembly meetings that are mainstays of the other Occupy movements. And unlike D.C.'s other occupations, which are planning to go on more or less indefinitely, Schneider's Occupy protest has an end date -- Nov. 20.

If there's any apparent similarity between Schneider's Occupy protest and the others, outside of the Occupy name, it's the lack of specific demands.

The criticism has been levied since the beginning that none of the Occupy movements have specific demands. The Occupy protesters themselves have rejected this criticism on various grounds: Some say they do in fact have specific demands. Others say it's their job to point out problems, not to offer solutions. Still others say that their consensus process takes a long time but that eventually specific demands will be made.

Occupy Pennsylvania Avenue's lack of demands is by design.

"We don't have fights with people because we don't engage in political discussions. I don't want to be standing for something," Schneider said. "The only demand I have is that the leaders take notice of us and try to work hard. We want to be a little more engaging, a little more functional, a little more progressive and a little more safe."

"In my mind, this all works," he added. "Probably to someone who's more used to the occupation and the civil disobedience and the other methods of doing this, it probably doesn't make a lot of sense. I'll admit, for branding purposes, calling it Occupy probably wasn't the best idea."

Photo by Flickr user timsackton.

WATCH Keith Olbermann read a declaration from Occupy Wall Street:

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