Congress, D.C. debate laws governing ‘Occupy’ in McPherson

Washington, DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday,Jan. 24, 2012, before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the McPherson Square campsite as part of the ongoing Occupy DC protest. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON – Members of a congressional panel questioned city managers in D.C. Tuesday about regional “Occupy” protests, drawing particular attention to how federal and local agencies are interpreting and enforcing laws against the protesters encamped in McPherson Square on K Street since last October.

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier and D.C. Health Director Dr. Mohammed Akhter testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about their management of the protest site.

Not all First Amendment activities require a permit, Jarvis told the committee before engaging in a debate over whether the occupiers are sleeping on site. Camping is forbidden in McPherson Square.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said he was “deeply disappointed” in the National Park Service.

“D.C. is a place for protests to occur,” he said in his opening statement.

Members of the protests were not allowed to testify at the hearing. “We are not talking about this group,” Issa said.

WTOP’s Mark Segraves attended the hearing. Check out his live tweets for more information.

Follow Mark Segraves and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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