UPDATE: According to International Business Times, the Lincoln Memorial and other portions of Washington, D.C. had been reserved by the National Park Service “nearly a year ago” for the U.S. Presidential inauguration.
As of now, this year’s Women’s March on Washington is without a home, following news that the famous annual protest will be barred access to the Lincoln Memorial.
This famous protest, which has garnered nearly a million shares on social media since the election of Donald Trump as president in early November, was set to converge on the Lincoln Memorial on January 21, 2017.
On Facebook alone, more than 227,000 citizens have indicated they will attend the event at the memorial via the Women’s March Event Page, with an additional 137,000-plus marking themselves as interested.
Of course, those confirmations are just on Facebook alone.
Unfortunately, this year’s Women’s March at the Lincoln Memorial is also set for the day after President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration into office.
Citing “National Park Service (NPS) documents,” the Guardian is reporting that the U.S. government has filed to prevent organized public access to a number of “key sites” in and around the Washington, D.C., area in the weeks preceding and following the presidential inauguration.
This includes, unfortunately, access to the Lincoln Memorial.
Presumably, the Guardian noted, these locations will be used for “inauguration festivities.”
Of course, the historic ramifications of this barring — as the Lincoln Memorial has played host to numerous well-known demonstrations over the years, including anti-Vietnam war assemblies and civil rights marches of the 1960s — are considered by some to be significant.
The bigger and more pressing problem for the Women’s March is that it leaves them without a home.
Although specifics have yet to be confirmed, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard told the Guardian that the NPS’ permit covers this broad tract of land for days and weeks before and after the inauguration.
And in this regard, she regards the banning of the Lincoln Memorial to protesters as “extremely unique.”
“It hasn’t come up in any way previously,” said Verheyden-Hilliard, “where you’ve had a groundswell of people trying to have access [to the Lincoln Memorial]… and thousands of people want to come, and the government is saying we won’t give you a permit.”
“What they’ve done is take all of these spaces out of action [such as the Memorial],” she continued, that have traditionally been “historic spaces for dissent”.
Verheyden-Hilliard – who was also denied permits to protest at the inauguration itself – would go on to say that her organization has “issued the demand to the parks service” to gain access to the Lincoln Memorial and other publicly-accessed monuments on January 21 and expects that the U.S. government will “conform to the constitution and make permits available.”
Above all else, Verheyden-Hilliard sees the Women’s March being denied access to organize at the Lincoln Memorial as “an illegal abridgment of first amendment rights.”
Of course, not all officials in Washington, D.C., agree with this perspective.
NPS spokesperson Mike Litterst, for example, told the Guardian that the closed portions of parks are “construction zones, effectively.”
In particular, the NPS representative talked about the massive amount of structures that need to be assembled – and disassembled – with an ordinary presidential inauguration.
Then, factor in the fact that the inauguration is for a president-elect in Donald Trump who is as polarizing as has ever been seen.
“It’s partly a practical issue,” said Litterst. “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.”
Still, the heart of the matter for citizens looking to assemble at the Women’s March on January 21 is why what the Guardian called “large swaths of the national mall and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial” all had to be claimed in such a manner.
Especially after the inauguration is over.
The march notwithstanding, the Lincoln Memorial has traditionally held a special place in history for U.S. protesters, especially at the height of anti-war and civil rights sentiment in the 1960s.
Unfortunately, what many saw as a potentially comparable march to protest the new U.S. president is considered somewhat sabotaged by the news.
[Featured Image by Logan Mock-Bunting/Getty Images]