National Parks Service Proposal Would Compel Fees For DC Protests

Children holding American flag

News & Updates

The ACLU of D.C. submitted a formal written comment expressing opposition to the National Park Service’s proposed regulation changes to protest rights in the nation’s capital. Arthur Spitzer the Legal Co-Director of the ACLU of D.C. writes that these changes would make events like MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech too expensive to happen. If passed, the new rules would restrict demonstrations on 80% of The White House sidewalk, on the National Mall, and charge a fee for protests.

ACLU ACLU Public Comment
September 11, 2018: Advocates Are Calling It A “Protest Tax”

Writing for the Washington Post, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund Mara Verheyden-Hilliard and the group’s legal director Carl Messineo shed light on a recent National Park Service proposal to revise demonstration regulations in the National Capital Region.

The two argue that the proposal is an attempt by the U.S. government to restrict access to public spaces for demonstrations in Washington by requiring an event management fee, calling it a “protest tax.”

The new regulatory proposal would also essentially eliminate the ability to protest on White House sidewalk.

A National Parks Service spokesperson says that demonstrations and protests are costly. In response, the authors write: “Free speech is not a cost. It is a value. It is a fundamental pillar of democracy.”

Washington Post NPS Draft Proposal Public Comment

Analysis Opinion

Compelling fees to cover the cost of protests and demonstrations would mean that only the wealthiest groups could afford to protest publicly, writes Petula Dvorka in the Washington Post.