The U.S. National Park Service had put the protestors on notice that it would start enforcing a ban against camping in McPherson Square, a park located just a few blocks from the White House.
"This is not an eviction," Park Police Sergeant David Schlosser said at a brief news conference at the park. "We've got a great deal of cooperation from folks that are in the park and right now we have no arrests."
While similar "Occupy" protests against social and economic inequality in other U.S. cities have been shut down by policy, the demonstrations in the capital have survived an unusually warm winter and a permissive approach by federal authorities reluctant to provoke confrontation. The number of protestors in the Occupy D.C. camps fluctuate, but city officials estimate there are generally fewer than 100. The demonstrators had set up tents and were sleeping in the park.
Despite their small numbers, the Washington protestors have received outsized media attention because their camps are just blocks from President Obama's official residence. The National Park Service forbids camping on federal land not designated as a campground. City officials have complained about squalor, rats and trash.
A protester who said she had been at the camp since October said police said they could have tents, but not the camping materials inside and could not sleep in the park. Asked what she was going to do now, Brittney Steer, 20, of Minneapolis, said, "Same thing we've been doing. This is just another day in the square."
(Additional reporting by Will Dunham)