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Trump Administration Plans Crackdown on Protests Outside White House
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49311"><span class="small">Luke O'Neil, Guardian UK</span></a>   
Friday, 12 October 2018 12:49

O'Neil writes: "Donald Trump has frequently and falsely crowed about the idea of so-called paid protesters, including most recently the sexual assault survivors who confronted senators in the lead-up to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Now his administration may be trying to turn that concept on its head, by requiring citizens to pay to be able to protest, among other affronts to the first amendment."

Protesters near the White House following the Women's March on Washington on 20 January. (photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty)
Protesters near the White House following the Women's March on Washington on 20 January. (photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty)


Trump Administration Plans Crackdown on Protests Outside White House

By Luke O'Neil, Guardian UK

12 October 18


The administration has suggested it could charge ‘event management’ costs for protests and close 80% of the sidewalks

onald Trump has frequently and falsely crowed about the idea of so-called paid protesters, including most recently the sexual assault survivors who confronted senators in the lead-up to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation. Now his administration may be trying to turn that concept on its head, by requiring citizens to pay to be able to protest, among other affronts to the first amendment.

Under the proposal introduced by the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, in August, the administration is looking to close 80% of the sidewalks surrounding the White House, and has suggested that it could charge “event management” costs, for demonstrations.

Currently the National Park Service is able to recoup costs for special events, but not spontaneous protests like the ones that typically take place in Lafayette Park across from the White House. These charges could include the cost of erecting barriers, cleaning fees, repairs to grass, permit fees and the salaries of official personnel on hand to monitor such demonstrations, all tallied at the discretion of the police.

Naturally, civil liberties groups consider the proposals an affront to the rights guaranteed under the first amendment. As the ACLU notes, such fees “could make mass protests like Martin Luther King Jr’s historic 1963 March on Washington and its ‘I have a dream’ speech too expensive to happen”.

During the Vietnam war the federal government attempted to impose similar barriers to citizens freely assembling in protest and were sued by the ACLU. In their ruling the courts reasserted the fact that “the use of parks for public assembly and airing of opinions is historic in our democratic society, and one of its cardinal values”.

The White House sidewalk, Lafayette Park, and the Ellipse were unique sites for the exercise of those rights, they ruled, and therefore they could not “accord deference to an executive approach to use of the White House sidewalk that is rooted in a bias against expressive conduct …”

The National Park Service has attempted to justify the proposal by pointing out that large protests, like the Women’s March, overtax their abilities, and place a heavy cost on the government. One might argue when it comes to preserving our right to protest no cost is too high.

The public has until 15 October to comment on the plans.

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Comments  

 
+8 # wilhelmscream 2018-10-12 14:19
BAD IDEA!! EVIL!! RACIST!! HYPOCRSY!! MY BIG OPPINION WOULD GET ME BANNED FROM COMMENTING!!!!! !!!
 
 
+4 # BetaTheta 2018-10-12 22:07
What does one of Trump's trips to his scream-fest rallies cost the taxpayers?
 
 
+3 # tedrey 2018-10-13 04:29
Trump should pay, as by law, out of his own pocket, for any use of public property, facilities, communication, or transportation for personal or campaign purposes. He'd be broke in a month.
 
 
+2 # tedrey 2018-10-13 05:12
IMPORTANT

https://action.aclu.org/petition/dc-restrict-demonstration-rights

Sign it NOW. We have been given only two days.
 
 
+2 # futhark 2018-10-13 05:34
It seems to me that huge crowds of people attending a presidential inauguration event also cause substantial financial burden to the federal government. Perhaps President Trump would care to make a contribution to the Park Service and the District of Columbia government for the expenses they may have incurred due to the "record crowds" that attended his 2017 inauguration ceremony.
 
 
0 # Salburger 2018-10-13 06:12
Don't count on the courts this time, not with Kavanaugh in a majority
 
 
+3 # relegn 2018-10-13 06:29
Limit protests outside the White House?
Let's hope that inspires even more protests outside the White House and everywhere else!
 
 
+1 # tedrey 2018-10-13 11:07
In my own comment I wrote:
"The administration is able to ignore most means of protest. If they choose, they can sit inside and read and watch only the media they prefer, ignore all mail and written appeals they don't want to be bothered with, have their aides exclude all possibly unwanted claiments to their attention. Actual mass protests within sight and sound of their living and working areas are the only avenues likely to get their attention to public grievances when they just don't want to know abot it. If that is silenced, I fear that the way to violence is opened."