Washington, Dec 5 (IANS): Police arrested 31 Occupy DC protesters and removed several others clinging to a wood structure erected in McPherson Square near the White House ending an hours-long standoff with the demonstrators against corporate greed.
The standoff started shortly before 11 a.m. Sunday as US park police surrounded the structure built overnight as a place where protesters could stay warm in the winter and hold their daily general assembly meetings, according to one of the Occupy demonstrators.
Police ordered the structure taken down around noon Sunday, a post on the Occupy DC website reported, but some people remained perched on top of or inside the building, which was donated by a father-son architect team. As many as 200 people gathered at the park to watch the standoff.
Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said the protesters had not gone through proper permitting procedures for the structure and "police had safety concerns regarding structural integrity."
Earlier, police put up barriers around the structure and cordoned off nearby streets with yellow tape as protesters chanted, "This is a nonviolent movement," and, "Put the pepper spray away."
Fifteen of the 31 people detained by police were arrested for crossing the police line. The other 15 were charged with disobeying a lawful order after police ordered them to vacate the structure. The last protester removed from the building was charged with resisting arrest, indecent exposure and urinating in public.
Maintenance crews dismantled the structure about an hour after the standoff ended Sunday night.
The Occupy Wall Street movement that began in New York in September has spread across major US cities. In recent weeks, cities have begun clearing encampments, citing economic, health and public safety concerns.