UPDATE Veterans for Peace work out agreement that allows them to remain on Independence Mall.
A small group of military veterans from Veterans for Peace decided they were not going to leave Independence Mall, even though their permit expired at 9 pm EST. One of the veterans, Bill Perry, negotiated with police as occupiers came to see the veterans risk arrest.
Over a hundred occupiers were there at one point. Fifty or so bike patrol stood at attention across the street. About ten to fifteen Park Police stood at attention with riot helmets and shields. Live streamers and occupiers addressed the police, who they did not think needed to stand at attention. The scene was escalating.
An announcement came around 9 pm. The Park Service was going to renegotiate the terms of the permit. There would not be any confrontation or major act of resistance tonight. The occupiers were invited to show support at 11 am on July 3.
Occupiers did not leave. The Park Police, however, eventually backed down. They took their helmets off and went into a patch of trees. The bike police mostly left. Some higher ranking police officials stood around but were prepared to make no significant moves.
Music was being played. A cover of “This Land is Your Land.” Then, a cover of the alternative rock band Green Day’s “Holiday.” The people there may have thought they would be spending the night on the Mall with veterans. It was a party-like atmosphere. But the veterans did not want them to be there and occupiers were urged to go support them by sleeping at a nearby Wells Fargo branch.
Here are a couple videos that capture some of the scene from last night.
“Hula Hooping While Vets Make Announcements”
The above video captures the mesmerizing cacophony of it all. A young woman with a lit-up hula hoop. Three or four people standing behind her with signs, as if to provide a staged backdrop for a street performance. Meanwhile, police are still lurking about. There are over a hundred people not sure of whether they are staying or not. A few occupiers are shouting announcements from veterans that occupiers should leave the scene. However, it is anyone’s guess if occupiers are listening or care that announcements are being made.
“Occupy Covers Green Day’s ‘Holiday’”
And then there’s this performance of a song from the era of George W. Bush. Surprisingly, perhaps, most there know the words and sing along. Performed right after “This Land is Your Land,” it is like a folk song that 21st Century troubadours might be singing at protests throughout the next decades.