WASHINGTON – D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is calling for the Occupy D.C. encampment to be kicked out of McPherson Square because of health and safety concerns.
In a letter to the National Park Service first reported by the Washington Post, Gray points to problems with rats, communicable disease, hypothermia and food borne illness.
In bold, underlined text, the mayor says that “at a minimum” the Occupy D.C. sites should be consolidated at Freedom Plaza.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., issued a statement echoing Gray’s concerns. He has asked the park service to justify how the protesters have been allowed to camp in the square. Issa says the park service is "making excuses."
Park Service spokesman Bill Line says not much is likely to change.
“First Amendment rights and political free speech rights are what are at issue here, and we have rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court here that apply specifically to the District of Columbia,” Line says. “We, as any other federal agency, have to abide by what the Supreme Court tells us.”
Gray also repeated his request for federal funds to reimburse the District for the costs of policing the groups.