In the past, all that was required to protest on the National Mall was a permit, but the Trump administration is proposing that a fee should be charged to march or assemble. The location, which for generations has been dedicated to free speech and the right to assemble, might soon be tagged with a price.
New Jersey.com reports that there is a proposal on behalf of the National Park Service to restrict who can march on the Mall. For decades, people have marched for Civil Rights, to end wars, and to bring like-minded people together. Allen Dickerson, Legal Director of the Institute for Free Speech, says the National Mall is the ultimate place for Americans to express themselves.
“It is the stage upon which Americans have long exercised their rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, to freely assemble and petition their representative government.”
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his epic “I have a Dream” speech to a packed crowd, and just last year, 700 protests took place for causes from the far left to the far right.
But all of this could change if the proposal is accepted according to NJ.com editor Linda Stamato.
“[The Park Service] would limit access to demonstrate in this space to those who can pay for the privilege! Citizens would have to pay to exercise their First Amendment rights to speech and peaceable assembly on the very property that they own. The people, after all, do own public space.”
And the new proposal would limit where and how people could protest in and around all of Washington D.C., including closing off Lafayette Square across from the White House and the Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalks in front of the Trump International Hotel.
Any changes to the rules will likely be met with litigation, but the time period is closed for the public to comment on the latest proposal.
Donald Trump was reportedly offended by the people who protested the nomination of newly minted Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh. Actor Piper Perabo and others were arrested while protesting Kavanaugh’s nomination in D.C. and later posted on Twitter a statement about free speech, and how it is innately American protest.
“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
The decision on the changes to the assembly and protest rules in Washington D.C. is due any day.