U.S. Capitol Police Order Pro-Palestinian Protesters to Remove Overnight Tents

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Pro-Palestinian protesters in Washington, D.C. were informed by the United States Capitol Police that they were not allowed to keep “tents up all night” after an encampment was established on the lawn of the Ellipse.

“I’ve given you the option to be civil and take them down yourselves, and that’ll be the end of the story,” the officer told the protesters. “Or, we’re going to have to go in and take them. That’s basically the two things that’ll happen tonight. Like I said, our preference is you all handle your business yourself, you take care of what you need to do and that’s the end of the story.”

“But, if you don’t do that, obviously it’s a non-starter. You’re not keeping the tents up all night,” the officer added.

When asked by the protester what law the tents were violating, the U.S. Park Police officer referenced 36 CFR § 7.96, which “applies to all park areas administered by National Capital Region in the District of Columbia and in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford Counties,” along with Alexandria, Virginia, and “Prince Georges, Charles, Anne Arundel, and Montgomery Counties in Maryland,” according to the Cornell Law School website.

Under the code, camping is “defined as the use of park land for living accommodation purposes such as sleeping activities, or making preparations to sleep.” :

(1) Camping is defined as the use of park land for living accommodation purposes such as sleeping activities, or making preparations to sleep (including the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping), or storing personal belongings, or making any fire, or using any tents or shelter or other structure or vehicle for sleeping or doing any digging or earth breaking or carrying on cooking activities. The above-listed activities constitute camping when it reasonably appears, in light of all the circumstances, that the participants, in conducting these activities, are in fact using the area as a living accommodation regardless of the intent of the participants or the nature of any other activities in which they may also be engaging. Camping is permitted only in areas designated by the Superintendent, who may establish limitations of time allowed for camping in any public campground. Upon the posting of such limitations in the campground, no person shall camp for a period longer than that specified for the particular campground.

The U.S. Park Police officer continued to explain that there were “different regulations” regarding the Presidential Park, National Mall, and monuments in the nation’s capital.

“Which particular part of it is it violating?” the protester can be heard asking, to which the officer informs him that there are “several sections” and that the protester is a “smart man” who can read it.

“But, again, I’m telling you, you can’t be here,” the officer adds. “You can take it down or we’re going to take it down.”

The encampment set up at the Ellipse comes after several encampments were set up on college and university campuses throughout the nation during April and into early May in support of an initial encampment that had been established at Columbia University.

Protesters involved in the encampments on college and university campuses issued wide-ranging demands, including calling for universities to divest from Israeli companies, ending academic ties with Israeli educational institutions, and calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Truth Voices reached out to the U.S. Park Police for a statement but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

Elizabeth Weibel
Elizabeth Weibel
Maryland raised. Virginia based.

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