Monitoring Protest Areas

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

By DowntownDC


With Freedom Plaza and McPherson Square occupied by demonstrators, the DowntownDC BID has deployed additional members of its Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance team (SAMs), to remove litter and trash and help keep the visitor experience in the heart of the Nation’s Capital pleasurable.

“DC and Downtown are accustomed to crowds gathering for celebrations and even protest rallies,” said Richard H. Bradley, the BID’s executive director. “In every instance, we work to monitor accessibility and cleanliness and keep property managers, businesses, workers, visitors and residents apprised of relevant information so that everyone has a safe and memorable experience.”

People upset over the economy and other issues set up camp last Thursday at Freedom Plaza (Pennsylvania Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets), and McPherson Square (K Street between 15th and 16th Streets). An estimated 30 to 50 tents and large cardboard boxes are in each location.

The BID is working with the District Department of Public Works (DPW) and the National Park Service (NPS) to ensure cleanliness. The number of Maintenance SAMs has doubled at the protest sites, where they are collecting and removing a steady stream of litter and trash, some bagged and conveniently placed for pickup by the demonstrators. In addition, Safety/Hospitality team members assigned to the locations will continue to help visitors find their way and notify police should trouble arise.

The BID is also coordinating with the NPS and city agencies to ensure they will continue to monitor and address any safety or health concerns or both caused by the unprecedented time frame allotted the protestors.

In an email to property managers, the BID noted it is urging NPS to closely monitor activities and has expressed concerns over the use of flammable cooking materials and structures erected in the parks. In addition, the BID has requested that US Park Police (USPP) be assigned to secure the parks 24/7, park maintenance crews be deployed regularly, and park funding be secured to repair any damage.

So far, the peaceful protests have not interrupted area business operations and have caused only minor traffic disruptions. Outdoor farmers’ markets near both sites —FreshFarm Market, by the White House and Capital Harvest on the Plaza—will remain open every Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Businesses can contact:
• NPS, for questions or concerns: 202.485.9880 or
• USPP, for park police-related matters: 202.426.6710
• 911, for emergencies

Although the NPS has extended the protesters’ permit for using Freedom Plaza until December 30, no immediate end to the sit-ins is currently in sight. Stay tuned.

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