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Occupiers Plan Protests Despite Power Battles

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Occupy DC protesters camped out in Freedom Plaza in October. An offshoot of the group, NOW DC, will gather in Franklin Square for a monthlong sit-in starting March 31. The group plans to skip tents and sleep on the streets.

NOW DC will have Capitol Hill protests and teach-ins on foreign policy, corporate involvement in politics and labor unions, among other topics.

Occupy DC, on the other hand, rarely inserts itself into national politics. Local activists have resisted interaction with Congress.

“I am very upset how groups from around the country use DC as their temporary staging ground,” Wade Simmons, another protester associated with Occupy DC, told Roll Call in an email.

Occupy DC working groups based in Mount Pleasant, Chevy Chase and at the University of Maryland are organizing a carnival in McPherson Square on March 31, the same day that NOW DC has planned its first general assembly meeting just one block away.

The group has also teamed up with the Amalgamated Transit Union for an April 4 rally in support of increased funding for public transportation.

Last month a group of Occupy DC activists, largely veterans of the McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza encampments, voted not to endorse the April event.

The meeting, documented in the Twitter feed of several attendees, revealed deep-seated tension between the groups’ leaders that could end up hurting the movement’s spring resurgence.

Occupy Our Homes, a related group that helps Washington-area residents save their houses from foreclosure, has not endorsed NOW DC either.

Still, Jewler said he would try to capitalize on the energy ginned up by NOW DC.

“I think most, if not all, of us will be in solidarity with the individuals who do come,” Jewler said. “Though we cannot necessarily offer much in the way of housing, food or arrest money.”

Taking a cue from Washington’s homeless, NOW DC protesters will skip the tents and sleep on the streets.

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