from the Guardian
For the thousands hoping to echo the civil rights and anti-Vietnam rallies at Lincoln Memorial by joining the women’s march on Washington the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration: time to readjust your expectations.
The Women’s March won’t be held at the Lincoln Memorial.
That’s because the National Park Service, on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, filed documents securing large swaths of the national mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial for the inauguration festivities. None of these spots will be open for protesters.
The NPS filed a “massive omnibus blocking permit” for many of Washington DC’s most famous political locations for days and weeks before and after the inauguration on 20 January, said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a constitutional rights litigator and the executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.
Previously, Verheyden-Hilliard has led court battles for protest access on inauguration day itself.
But banning access to public land for protesters days after the inauguration is “extremely unique”, she said in a press conference held by the Answer [Act Now to Stop War and End Racism] Coalition.
“It hasn’t come up in any way previously, where you’ve had a groundswell of people trying to have access on the Saturday, January 21, and thousands of people want to come, and the government is saying we won’t give you a permit,” she said.
“What they’ve done is take all of these spaces out of action,” she said, many of which, the Answer Coalition noted in its press release, are “historic spaces for dissent”.
It’s partly a practical issue. Inauguration bleachers and viewing stands started being erected on 1 November and it will take until 1 March to completely clear the major public spaces from all of the inauguration works, said Mike Litterst, spokesman for the NPS.
“They’re construction zones, effectively,” said Litterst.
But the plan greatly limits the options for public protesting.
Answer requested a permit to host a rally along Pennsylvania Avenue the day after the inauguration and was denied.
“We’ve issued the demand to the parks service because this is an illegal abridgment of first amendment rights ... We expect they’ll conform to the constitution and make permits available,” said Verheyden-Hilliard.
Shortly after the election, the women’s march on Washington started going viral on Facebook, with activists calling on women and allies to head to the city on 21 January and march on the Lincoln Memorial. Currently, 135,000 people have registered on the national Facebook page to say they are “going” and another 225,000 are “interested”.
The Facebook event page still has the Lincoln Memorial listed as the event’s address, but it won’t be held at the historic location.
“The Lincoln Memorial is not possible,” said Cassady Fendlay, spokeswoman for the women’s march on Washington. She said march organizers were not associated with the Answer Coalition, and have “had no issues with the permitting process at all”.
“We are in conversation with the police. We have secured another location,” said Fendlay, declining to name where the march would now take place but saying it would be nearby.
• This article was amended on 9 December 2016 to correct the spelling of Mike Litterst’s surname.