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article imageProtests before, after or during inauguration have been blocked

By Karen Graham     Dec 9, 2016 in Politics
Washington - Anyone planning on attending the Women's March in Washington the day after the inauguration might want to check for updates because the Lincoln Memorial won't be available. You can blame the National Park Service for the glitch.
Actually, any group planning on gathering to peacefully protest the day of the Presidential Inauguration, or the day before or even the day after the event, will be hard-pressed to find any place on the National Mall or Pennsylvania Avenue to gather a crowd.
It seems the National Park Service has taken out a "massive omnibus blocking permit" that covers large swaths of land, including the Ellipse and Lafayette Park on either side of the White House. That really doesn't leave much standing room for the expected large crowd.
The Guardian is reporting that Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a constitutional rights litigator and the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund says the NPS reserved many of the blocked locations "for days and weeks before and after the inauguration."
"This is public land. This land belongs to all of us. The park service's role is only to act as a neutral administrator and steward of public land," she said. "They have done a massive land grab, to the detriment of all those who want to engage in free speech activities."
No one will disagree that Donald Trump's election has prompted an unusually large number of protest groups to seek permits, including the organizers of a planned women's march on Washington the day after the inauguration. NPS spokesman Mike Litterst said in a statement that twenty groups have applied for permits this year, four times the number of groups who have applied in previous inaugurations.
The park service said it was following regulations that have been in place since 2008 and upheld by the courts, in reserving space for inaugural activities. "The park service is actively reviewing the pending permit applications and, as always, is committed to accommodating as many permits as it can," Litterst said in the statement.
Actually, the NPS obtained the blocked spaces a year ago, according to the permit papers obtained by the attorneys. This way, the Inauguration committee can decide what spaces they will be using. In the past, the park service was notified as to what spaces were not going to be used, and permits were then issued to activist groups.
Verheyden-Hilliard said she is afraid the inauguration committee will let the clock run out on dissidents, and she will take them to court to prevent that from happening.
More about Protests, inauguration 2016, national park service, omnibus blocking permit, Public space
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