WASHINGTON - Police in riot gear arrested at least two protesters Saturday after descending en masse at dawn on the Occupy DC encampment in downtown Washington to enforce a camping ban.

Two protesters were seen by AFP reporters being taken by police officers from the foot of an equestrian statue in McPherson Square after refusing a police order to leave.

Members of Occupy DC's legal team said two others had also been arrested.

About 50 riot police officers, some of them on horseback, and with a helicopter overhead, surrounded McPherson Square in the pre-dawn hours, but refrained from immediate action.

Most nearby streets were cordoned off, and barricades erected around the block-sized park, as a huge blue tarpaulin known as the Tent of Dreams -- hoisted over the statue earlier this week -- was peacefully taken down.

Also removed by police using a cherry picker was a Guy Fawkes mask that the occupiers had humorously placed on the face of the statue of Civil War general James McPherson.

Later, police in yellow overalls were seen picking up bedding and placing it in plastic bags.

"We are not here to evict," but to check to see if protesters are complying with no-camp rules, a police official told the protesters, who moved onto McPherson Square on October 1.