An interesting interactive feature included the 'mic checks' – a novel way to ensure that everyone heard questions and other information by participants who repeated, word-for-word, what each speaker said.
About 30 tents in neat rows covered most of the grassy area. Small knots of people chatted, a Jewish group, led by two guitarists, sang, not far away, while a trio comprised of a guitarist, accompanied by a tuba player and a trombonist, worked on perfecting some impromptu arrangements.
At one entrance to the park stood a fading red and white Occupy DC sign and a large American flag attached to a length of white PVC piping bending in the night breeze. One sign read: "The whole world is watching – we are the 99 percent."
Back at Freedom Plaza, retired Col. Ann Wright eyed the tent city around her with undisguised pleasure.
"It is encouraging to see the numbers and to see this all over the country," said Wright, who traveled to the District from Honolulu, Hawaii. "There are 150-200 people left from the 1,500 who were here over the weekend. I certainly hope for more ... I think the politicians are getting the sense that people are pissed off. City governments are going down the toilet."
Wright, a former diplomat and soldier – who said she was "on the ground" in Somalia, Grenada and Panama – said she is deeply concerned about certain government policies and wars "that are sucking us dry."
"We have lost our financial and moral standing in the world," said Wright, who spent 16 years as a diplomat and resigned in 2003 because of her opposition to 'Bush's war.' "So much funding goes into these wars and at the same time, we're dealing with the pitiful state of education, roads and healthcare. The corporate greed is appalling and Wall Street is sucking us dry, too."
Wright added that it's heartwarming to see the growing numbers of city councils, mayors and other elected officials around the country endorsing the protestors.
A mantra of the Occupy movement is that "the 99 percent will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1 percent."
The 1 percent includes banks, and the insurance and mortgage industries which are said by the group to control 99 percent of the money, and the 99 percent encompasses the rest - the have-nots. In actuality, the wealthiest 1 percent is thought to control about 40 percent of the nation's wealth.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), first described the protestors as "a mob" before backtracking and calling them, instead, unpatriotic, while Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), warned that the media shouldn't be allowed to cover the protests for fear that it would give the movement legitimacy and "as it did in the 60s, end up shaping policy."
According to the website, the Raw Story, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain said the protests are a conspiracy to help President Barack Obama. He called the occupiers "anti-American and anti-capitalist to criticize bankers."
Former Georgia Congressman Newt Gingrich said the protests are "a natural outgrowth of Obama's 'class warfare,' and described the unrest "as a strain of hostility to free enterprise." At the same time, House Budget Committee Chair, Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), used the television forum of "Meet the Press" to blame the president for sowing class envy and social unrest and preying on people's emotions, envy, fear and anger.
However, former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold (D), is encouraging more Americans to support the occupy protests around the U.S.
"My sense is that there's a great fear that this sweet deal that a lot of people have in Washington and New York, this unholy alliance between our government and our media, the financial markets and the financial businesses, that this unholy alliance is being threatened and challenged," he said. "It is a threat and attack on every working American and it's time we upset the apple cart. I think they are nervous and that this has great potential."
Naismith and Evans theorize that the movement is fostering a new reality and building a refreshing consciousness and concern for others that was lost in the me-ism and selfishness that are often by-products of a capitalist society. Both said they welcome the changes this movement could foment.
For Chapel Hill, N.C. resident Tracey Wall, coming to the District was precipitated by his concerns about the direction the country has taken.
"I have a 20-year-old son and I'm concerned for his future," said Wall. "I can't believe how far things have gone. I am taking a stand and representing people who have been disenfranchised. We have a war economy and there has been a rapid erosion of our freedoms. I would like to see this all end with single-payer healthcare that is affordable, corporate power out of politics, the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and taking the money from the military budget and giving it to the people."
"I have seen the unparalleled growth of people power that has usurped the dialogue between one capitalist party – the Democrats, and the other political party – the Republicans. People have growing needs such as unemployment, joblessness, foreclosures, homelessness, and the never-ending wars. This is a wake-up call to all politicians. If you stand in the way, or stand on the tracks of the Peoples' Freight Train, you will be run over. Choo-choo!"