WASHINGTON -- Defiant anti-Wall Street protesters vowed to remain peacefully entrenched in two parks on Monday near the White House despite a police order to stop camping on federal land, raising the specter of possible confrontation.
The National Park Service, in its first challenge to the demonstrators, said last week it would start enforcing a ban at noon yesterday against camping in McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza, where protesters have camped out since October.
Police ordered bedding and cooking equipment removed but said tents could remain as a protest symbol if flaps stayed open. While many protesters said they would comply with the order, blankets were still visible in some tents.
After a cursory inspection of the McPherson Square camp, police remained on the outskirts and no arrests were reported. Protesters said police appeared hesitant to move in while television crews thronged the area.
While similar "Occupy" protests against social and economic inequality in other U.S. cities have been shut down by police, the demonstrations in the capital have survived an unusually warm winter and a permissive approach by federal authorities reluctant to provoke confrontation.
In Charlotte, N.C., city police began evicting another group of Occupy protesters from city property yesterday.
In Oakland, Calif., Mayor Jean Quan said that she is going to call national leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement and implore them to disown that city's protest movement.
Quan said Saturday's demonstration, where 400 protesters were arrested and City Hall was vandalized, showed that the contingent of protesters who have targeted Oakland were not as non-violent as they claim.
"I plan to call some of the national leadership of Occupy this week to say that the Oakland group is not nonviolent and has not agreed to be nonviolent," Quan said in an interview on KCBS. "The national Occupy movement has said they are nonviolent."