Occupy Washington D.C., the group protesting corporate and economic greed and inequality, has received an extension from the National Park Service to remain encamped on Freedom Plaza until the end of February.
The group’s original permit expired Dec. 30.
However, the extension also mandates that a pro-free market group scheduled to hold a series of rallies at the park from Feb. 12 to March 15 must share the plaza with the protesters.
Amy Ridenour, president of the conservative D.C.-based think tank National Center for Public Policy Research, told The Washington Post that her group had thought the occupiers would be gone by the time the rallies occurred.
“They were doing what we perceived to be a big-government message, and we thought we should stand up for small-government Americans,” Ridenour said.
The group currently at Freedom Plaza is not to be confused with another protest group, Occupy D.C., which has inhabited McPherson Square since Oct. 1 without a permit. That group is currently under investigation by a congressional oversight committee to determine whether they are occupying federal land illegally.
Occupy D.C. has come under scrutiny due to concerns raised about health and sanitation issues and the cost of overtime and maintenance to the National Park Service, which monitors the encampment. However, the Park Service has maintained both groups have a First Amendment right to operate.