WASHINGTON -- Protesters plan to stay in Freedom Plaza past the expiration of the group's permits at 2 p.m. on Monday, according to Kevin Zeese, an organizer of the Stop the Machine demonstration that started last Thursday and was scheduled to end on Sunday. Organizers had earlier said their permits expired at 10 p.m. on Sunday, but the group technically has until Monday afternoon to dismantle stage and other equipment.
[SEE UPDATES BELOW: The U.S. Park Police has offered the protesters a four-month extension of their permit for Freedom Plaza, which was accepted by the group during a Monday evening General Assembly.]
Zeese told The Huffington Post that Stop the Machine will keep protesting until its demands are met or until the group's General Assembly -- a consensus-based decision-making body that meets twice a day -- decides that another strategy would better help achieve its goals.
"The occupation itself is not the end game," said Zeese. "The end game is to end corporate rule. The occupation is a tactic to achieve that goal. If you want to be clear about what our one demand is, it's the goal of ending corporate rule and shifting the power to the people. Everything we're doing is a tactic and strategy toward that end."
He added that he and other members of Stop the Machine are prepared to be arrested, but that they haven't had any indication yet from the police that there will be arrests once the permits expire.
Zeese had earlier told HuffPost that his group was working to ensure it would have no conflicts with the police. On Monday morning, he said this new plan to violate the permits does not represent a change in the group's stance toward law enforcement.
"We never stayed within the boundaries of the law," Zeese said. "We slept in the park right from the beginning. We weren't in compliance from the start. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech and the right of assembly. No law. So they can't tell us to move. The permit is a minor issue compared to the Constitution."
UPDATE, 3:45 p.m.: With "Stop the Machine" protesters still in Freedom Plaza and officially overstaying their permit, there's been no movement by the U.S. Park Police to remove the demonstrators, now in their fifth day of protests in the plaza near the White House.
The U.S. Park Police offered to meet in private with the people whose names are on the permit. After a long discussion at the "Stop the Machine" General Assembly this afternoon about the group's response, the protesters selected two members to ask the Park Police for a public meeting. If it's not possible to arrange a public meeting with the police, the group will meet privately with hopes to record the meeting. A call was placed to the Park Police and a message was left. The group is waiting for a response. A National Lawyers Guild attorney, Ann Wilcox, said it is unclear what the Park Police may offer.
UPDATE, 4:07 p.m.: Some of the protesters are currently meeting with the Park Police.
UPDATE, 5:40 p.m.: The U.S. Park Police has offered the "Stop the Machine" demonstrators a four-month extension of their protest permit for Freedom Plaza. The group plans to vote on the offer during its General Assembly meeting set for 6 p.m.
UPDATE, 6:30 p.m.: The "Stop the Machine" protesters, in their General Assembly, have voted to accept the U.S. Park Police's four-month permit extension. The permit is the same as the previous one, and allows for a medical tent, media tent and legal tent, but continues its prohibition on tents for sleeping on the plaza. The protesters have ignored that provision of the permit since the beginning of the Freedom Plaza protest last week Thursday. Sunday night, there were roughly 30 tents pitched on the plaza in addition to scores of protesters camping out in sleeping bags.
Photo by Flickr user Karol Olson
WATCH Stop the Machine protest in Washington's Freedom Plaza at 10 p.m. on Sunday: