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Last Day to Comment on Trump Admin Proposal to Limit Protests Near White House, Charge ‘First Amendment Fees’ for Marches

by Countable | Updated on 10.15.18

UPDATE -- October 15, 2018: Today is the last day on which members of the public can submit comments on the Trump administration's proposal to limit demonstrations near the White House and the National Mall, and to impose a "First Amendment fee" for protests.

Read the details below in Countable's original story from October 10, then submit your public comment here.


What’s the story?

  • The Trump administration has proposed changes to limit demonstrations near the White House and National Mall, including closing 80 percent of the White House sidewalk, placing limits on spontaneous demonstrations, and imposing a “First Amendment fee” for protests.
  • The public has until October 15 to comment on the plans here.
  • Under current policy, the National Park Service charges fees for special events (e.g., concerts and weddings), but not for First Amendment demonstrations (e.g., marches and protests).
  • The American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, Hispanic Federation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Women’s Law Center, Human Rights Campaign, Sierra Club and a number of other organizations oppose the change.

What are both sides saying?

  • The NPS said in a statement that the changes were necessary to “provide greater clarity to the public about how and where demonstrations and special events may be conducted in a manner that protects and preserves the cultural and historic integrity of these areas.”
“From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the Ellipse—D.C.’s national parks have always served as a stage for groups wanting their voices heard,” NPS’ acting National Capital Regional Director Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini added. “The role the National Park Service plays in facilitating these groups’ First Amendment rights - regardless of their views - is not something we take lightly.” 
  • As for charging fees: "The idea came out of just the sheer cost to the Park Service and Park Police putting on and supporting some of these events,” Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the agency, told the Washington Post. “At this point we’re just asking the question.”
  • “Well, ask no longer, NPS, because this is a terrible idea,” wrote the editorial board of the Toledo Blade.
“Asking for reimbursement from those who use NPS resources for weddings or parties on the National Mall, as is already practice, is one thing. But requiring money from those who wish to exercise their constitutional right to free speech in the seat of our federal government would be an egregious overstep by the NPS and could limit the potency of future demonstrations on the Mall,” they write.
  • But Litterst pushed back, saying: “We don’t make money. We are expected to break even and have no expenditure out of our operating budget to support special events like that.”

What do you think?

Do you support the proposed changes to rallies and demonstrations on the Mall? Should Congress increase the NPS’ budget? Take action and tell your lawmakers above, then share your thoughts below.

And make sure to leave your public comment by October 15 here.

—Josh Herman


(Photo Credit: @ACLU via Twitter)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(648)
  • Leo
    10/10/2018
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    Suppression of free speech is a cornerstone of tyranny.

    Like (142)
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  • Tinee
    10/10/2018
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    The right to protest is covered by the first amendment. Trump doesn't like the protests outside the White House then he should stop doing things to anger his BOSSES. Elected officials work for We The People Of the United States of America. We will not keep our opinions on how everything is ran to ourselves.

    Like (131)
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  • Lexi
    10/10/2018
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    Our country is built on the foundation of peaceful protest and petitioning the government.

    Like (94)
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  • Caleb
    10/10/2018
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    This Administration cannot be allowed to limit freedom of speech in the United States of America!

    Like (89)
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  • Kimberly
    10/10/2018
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    This. Is. Fascism.

    Like (73)
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  • Robert
    10/10/2018
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    GIVE ME A BREAK! If ya can’t stand the HEAT...get OUT of the... White House!😬

    Like (67)
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  • Caleb
    10/10/2018
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    So we have to pay to exercise our rights? Sounds like tyranny.

    Like (63)
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  • Chickie
    10/10/2018
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    Charging a First Amendment Fee is Un-Constitutional. Before considering such a fee, I offer the following: #45 should pay the taxpayers rent for staying at the WH. The rent amount will be added to the National Parks budget. #45 should also be required to place a down payment which will be held in escrow, as well as listing a personal credit card number. Upon his exit, an inspection of the WH property, Air Force One, Marine One and the Presidential State Car would take place. Any repair costs, (outside of normal wear and tear), will be deducted from the down payment. If the amount of repair costs exceed the amount in escrow, the amount will be charged to the credit card. In addition, #45 will pay the costs of security and transportation for every trip to Mira Lago or to any of his other properties. #45 will be required to pay the charges on a monthly basis; security charges will include the costs of parking dump trucks in front of #45 Tower, Secret Service fees, etc. The monies would also be added to the National Parks Services budget.

    Like (56)
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  • Spencer
    10/10/2018
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    If you support this, you don’t support democratic expression. It’s that simple, sorry if you can’t handle criticism for horrible policies and idiotic, cruel behavior.

    Like (53)
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  • Zane
    10/10/2018
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    This is absurd. A blatant restriction on the first amendment rights of Americans. I oppose this proposal with certainty.

    Like (49)
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  • Rehanna
    10/10/2018
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    How can you charge for something written in our CONSTITUTION? I’m sorry who died and made you the king? Last I heard it’s for the PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE. White House and Senate are a big joke when it comes to actually listening to the people’s issues

    Like (43)
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  • Terry
    10/10/2018
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    Maybe we should charge all those people who visit with our President at his country clubs and stop footing the bill for all of his golfing trips!

    Like (42)
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  • Debbie
    10/10/2018
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    No! Its our right!

    Like (33)
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  • Gloria
    10/10/2018
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    No! He must be forced to see how much, how fervently, and how often we oppose him. He doesn't get to fine us for protesting his vile corruption. This is absurd.

    Like (29)
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  • Fl'nell
    10/10/2018
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    There wouldn't be protests If The People were happy with this administration.

    Like (28)
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  • J. scott
    10/10/2018
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    Unspeakably ridiculous and heinous actually — remember to vote in the midterms. 😊

    Like (26)
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  • Shelbi
    10/10/2018
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    I cannot believe this even crossed the consciousness of an American. Do not allow this abomination to happen. Limiting the freedom of speech is the first step to eliminating it! #freedomordeath

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  • C
    10/10/2018
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    Vote “no” on this.

    Like (23)
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  • Spencer
    10/10/2018
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    If you support this, you don’t support democratic expression. It’s that simple, sorry if you can’t handle criticism for horrible policies and idiotic, cruel behavior.

    Like (22)
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  • Jacob
    10/10/2018
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    I believe a better solution would be to better fund the NPS it will not be a significant drain and culture is worth investing in. As for limiting the area around the white house where protest can take place. I'd have to say this is a ridiculous idea and spits in the face of the ideas we've held since the founding of the nation.

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