It seems like in the past few years of political and social chaos, the First Amendment right to protest has become one increasingly vital for those voicing their dissatisfaction. But apparently protesting can be illegal. That’s why the Women’s March on Washington, which will take place the day after President-Elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, will not be taking place at the Lincoln Memorial as originally planned.
The National Park Service is denying protesters access to huge areas of land on Pennsylvania Avenue and the National Mall, including the Lincoln Memorial. The ban applies leading up to, during and after the inauguration.
Mike Litterst, spokesman for the NPS, told The Guardian that the restriction on certain areas is practical, since there’s a lot of set-up both before and after the inauguration—for example, bleachers for people to sit. “They’re construction zones, effectively,” he said.
But Constitutional litigator Mara Verheyden-Hilliard said in a press conference held by the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition that the permits still violate the First Amendment right to demonstrate.
“It hasn’t come up in any way previously, where you’ve had a groundswell of people trying to have access on the Saturday, Jan. 21, and thousands of people want to come, and the government is saying we won’t give you a permit,” she said. Verheyden-Hilliard isn’t specifically associated with the Women’s March on Washington.
In an update on their website, the Women’s March on Washington said on Nov. 25 that securing a permit is an “ongoing process”.
“We want to ensure that everyone understands it is a process, meaning a request of this nature and size takes time and coordination of agencies before the permit is approved,” Janaye Ingrame, head of logistics, wrote in the update.
It might look like their options are narrowing, and on their website they’re basically giving a big TBD to the event location, but Cassey Fendlay, spokeswoman for the march, told The Guardian that they already have another location. Okay, yay, but where exactly is that for the thousands of women trying to march?