As polarizing as the election process has been over the last 18 months, tensions are only continuing to rise as Inauguration Day gets closer. The alleged banning of protests at national parks and public places around the country, specifically in the District of Columbia, is one of the more recent major controversies.
As of Dec. 13, more than 20 groups have applied for permits in order to protest the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. The groups claim that their permits have either been denied or postponed of approval. These activist groups, including People’s Action and the ANSWER Coalition, suspect that the National Parks Services is merely trying to run down the clock in an attempt to silence them.
Activist groups have also accused the National Parks Services of conspiring with Trump’s Inauguration Committee in order to prevent these protests from occurring.
However, according to a spokesperson from the NPS, the same rules and regulations are being used for this inauguration that were used for both the 2008 and 2012 elections.
Trump’s team, as well as the Inauguration Committee, have responded with assurance that once the proper permits have been approved for the inauguration event itself, then permits for the protestors can be issued as well.
Other groups, such as the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, find the refusal of allowing permits at this time to be unconstitutional, in that it violates the First Amendment which grants Americans the freedom of speech. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said, “Trump’s private partisan Inaugural Committee is being allowed to decide where or even if demonstrators will be allowed to protest the Trump agenda on federal land in the nation’s capital,” and describes these events as, “extraordinary and unconstitutional.”
One specific rally that has spoken up about the ban was planned for Jan. 21 at the Lincoln Memorial and was to be conducted by the Women’s March on Washington. This protest has over 130,000 people listed as attending via their Facebook page, and that number is only continuing to rise as the time ticks for permits to be approved.
As of now, it does not appear as if anything unconstitutional is occurring. However, there is potential for the American people’s rights to be violated if the appropriate permits are not distributed soon. The longer it takes for the permits to be approved, the more the National Parks Services and Inauguration Committee set a dangerous precedence for Inauguration Day.
Despite the fact that there does not seem to be any blatant violation of the First Amendment so far, I encourage you to pay attention to this permit process in order to ensure that every American’s voice is heard.