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D.C. protesters to overstay permit, risk arrest

WASHINGTON - Demonstrators in an anti-war and anti-corporate greed protest in downtown Washington said Monday they plan to overstay the limitations of their permit, though it is unclear whether or when they may be arrested.

Organizers of the group that has spent the last four days camping in the city's Freedom Plaza near the White House said they don't plan on moving and will return even if some members are arrested.

In a blog posting on the organizers' website, David Swanson wrote, "Our permit is now the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."

At a meeting Monday morning that started just after 9 a.m., about 50 people discussed the logistics surrounding potential arrests as well as things such as plans for a community dinner. The group, October 2011/Stop the Machine, has also scheduled other marches and rallies throughout the week.

The group began camping in Freedom Plaza on Thursday, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan on Friday.

But individuals passionate about a variety of causes came to camp out with complaints about issues ranging from health care to home foreclosures and education spending.

"It's just a lot of people that know they want change," said Alexander Gonzalez, 22, a student who was missing school at the University of Houston to be in Washington.

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Gonzalez, one of the few young people in the group that gathered early Monday, said he plans to be arrested if police attempt to evict the group. The group is separate from the Occupy D.C. movement that has been organizing marches from the city's McPherson Square, just up the street from Freedom Plaza, though the groups have said they support each other.

Although the demonstration was scheduled to wrap up Sunday, the group has until 2 p.m. Monday to break down its stage and other equipment. Park police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said it's not clear yet what police will do if demonstrators stay in the plaza with their tents, banners and signs.

Bev Rice, 74, a veteran protester for anti-war causes, said there is an "absolute laundry list" of reasons she and others are in the plaza: opposition to the money the United States spends on war, discontent with home foreclosures and rising medical bills. Rice, a resident of New York who said she has five active arrest cases and was also arrested as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest, said she's part of the "handcuff crew" that plans to be arrested.

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