On October 15, Protect Democracy — along with 8 organizations and 35 prominent individuals from Freedom House to R Street to MoveOn and others — filed a comment on the National Park Service’s proposed changes to the rules for demonstrations and protests in Washington, D.C. The letter, organized by Niskanen Center, urges the National Park Services to abandon three anti-democratic parts of the proposed rules:
- Charging fees for demonstrations;
- Requiring permits for all demonstrations by eliminating the distinction between “demonstrations,” which have previously not required permits, and “special events,” which have required permits; and
- Eliminating demonstrations from the White House sidewalk.
As the letter notes, the National Mall and Memorial Parks serve as the stages of democracy, and are the nation’s “foremost public spaces and the primary settings for First Amendment activities, presidential inaugurations, civic engagement, and national celebrations. Citizens from throughout the country and around the world come here to participate in American democracy, celebrate freedom, and experience our nation’s history and culture.” Similarly, the White House is “the most iconic public form in the country, scene of hundreds of demonstrations involving the most important issues in American history.”
If passed, these proposals would create significant barriers for demonstrations and curtail free speech in our nation’s capital. They must be abandoned altogether.
The Washington Post covered the story.