Park Police officers in riot gear and on horseback converged before dawn on one of the nation's last remaining Occupy sites, with police clearing the grounds of tents that they said were banned.
Dozens of U.S. Park Police officers in riot gear and on horseback converged before dawn Saturday on one of the nation's last remaining Occupy sites, with police clearing the grounds of tents that they said were banned under park rules.
That move left large swaths of open space and raised questions about exactly what would remain of the encampment once the enforcement was over.
Still, police said they were not evicting the protesters. Those whose tents conformed to regulations were allowed to stay, and protesters remain able to demonstrate at the site at all hours provided they don't camp there.
The police used barricades to cordon off sections of McPherson Square, a park under federal jurisdiction near the White House, and checked tents for mattresses and sleeping bags and sifted through piles of garbage and other belongings. Some wore yellow and white biohazard suits to guard against diseases identified at the site in recent weeks.
Police by mid-day had arrested six people, including four protesters who refused to move from beneath a statute and two others for crossing a police line.
The National Park Service, which has tolerated the protesters for months and protected their First Amendment rights, has said it will give protesters notice if police decide to clear the park. Police on Saturday were careful to say they were not evicting the protesters or closing the park, but were instead stepping up enforcement of an existing ban on camping.