WASHINGTON -- Occupy Wall Street-inspired protesters in the nation's capital erected a "Tent of Dreams" in McPherson Square late Monday morning as a noon no-camping deadline loomed for activists who have been gathered in the downtown park since Oct. 1.
On Friday, the National Park Service started warning Occupy DC activists that it would enforce the agency's prohibition on camping in the park. After the "Tent of Dreams," which shrouded most of the statue of Gen. James McPherson in a bright blue tarp, was erected, protesters gathered inside and around the new structure.
At 1:30 p.m., U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser told assembled media in the park that there is no specific enforcement timetable and that Park Police officers would engage in ongoing compliance checks of park rules.
The National Park Service's enforcement of the Occupy movement's ongoing activities in federally controlled spaces downtown has come under fire by congressional Republicans. District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray (D), citing sanitation and public health issues at McPherson Square, has also expressed his desire for the city's two main Occupy encampments to be consolidated at Freedom Plaza, where a group has been stationed since Oct. 6.
Last week during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said that the Occupy encampments constitute a 24-hour vigil and is protested by the First Amendment. While Jarvis said that there would be enforcement of no-camping regulations on a case-by-case basis, the activists would not be evicted from the downtown parks as one large group.
Monday afternoon, Schlosser reiterated guidelines for Occupy's continued presence, including keeping tent flaps open so police officers could conduct compliance checks on camping that includes sleeping.
As of 2:30 p.m., there have not been any reports of arrests. According to Mark Segraves of WTOP, the Park Police has said that the agency "will take a measured and appropriate response" to the tarp draped over the McPherson statue.
Park Police inspected the tarp but did not take action.
On various Occupy-related live video streams from McPherson Square, activists expressed worries that the Park Police will wait until after sundown to make arrests.
UPDATE, 11:10 p.m.: Less than an hour before midnight, there have been no reports of Park Police action at D.C.'s Occupy camps during the course of Monday evening.
UPDATE, 11:35 p.m.: Although there's no official word from the Park Police, there have been various Twitter reports that police will arrive at 3 a.m. But there's been some uncertainty about the source of the "confirmed" police action.
Video report by HuffPost's Sara Kenigsberg