Thursday, 26 January 2012

Occupy Camping

This week, Congress (mostly the Republicans) called up the National Park Service management guys and asked some tough questions on the Occupy guys camping out in DC on Park Service grounds.

It wasn't much of a friendly situation.  I watched the video of the meeting, and you can tell that the Park Service guy probably didn't want to have to explain things.  The question came up....if rules exist that forbid camping on federal grounds, then how does Occupy continue to exist for weeks and months on two different sites in DC?

Well....the Park Service guy explained that if you are protesting, then your Constitutional rights fall into place, and none of the Park Service rules are enforced at that point.  You can see a bit of disbelief on the faces of the Representatives at the meeting.

I sat and pondered over the explanation. I would have asked the Park Service guy another question at this point.  If you suggest that Constitutional rights trump parks rules.....then could a guy from Bama travel by RV to the Grand Canyon Park entrance....put up a sign on the RV saying he was a "99-percent" protest guy and demand free entrance?  Then after entering.....could he freely park the RV for weeks and months at some parking lot along the Grand Canyon....just camping out, rather than paying the $30 a day for a site deal?

I'm guessing the Park Service guy would have grinned at that point and said no....that you can only be a 99-percent guy if you hang out in Wall Street or Washington DC.  Then I would have grinned and told him he'd best fire his legal staff for their advice.

The way this works....the Park Service in DC has a couple of lawyers for advice.  They tend to be told by senior management that there is a end-result to where they want to be.  So someone hinted that they wanted Occupy to be allowed free access within any forbidden camping rules.

Congress has come back, and it appears that the National Park Service will have to force the guys out at some point in the near future.  It might be might be weeks.

Here's the curious thing.  They can only chase them out of National Park Service lands.  The city actually has open property, not federal property.  Occupy could move and be in friendly territory.  The mayor might not be happy.....but folks could be legally camping.  There is a problem with this idea.  Most all of the District's open property (parks and such).....are nowhere near the capital or the White House.  Most is a pretty fair walk from the METRO stations.  Some of these parks are in the northeast and southeast areas....where you could be shot after the sun goes down.  Occupy guys aren't willing to walk a fair distance....nor would they have the guts to camp in areas where gang activity is possible.  Nor would they be happy having to walk three miles to get over to the protest area.

For a brief moment.....I had these ideas of traveling the US with a big RV....and a 99-percent sign on the side, and just staying freely at national parks.  I guess that just won't work in the real world.