There’s been a long history of rallies taking place at the Lincoln Memorial in D.C., including civil rights and anti–Vietnam War protests. However, women marching on Washington the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration won’t get the same opportunity, as the National Parks Service has blocked access to the Lincoln Memorial.
The Guardian reports that the NPS, on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee, filed a “massive omnibus blocking permit” to block off much of the National Mall, Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial for the inauguration. The permit secures these public spots for “days and weeks before and after” the January 20 event, which means the locations won’t be available for protests.
Shortly after the election, women across the country came together to organize a Women’s March on Washington for January 21. The march was set to be held at the Lincoln Memorial, and 136,000 women have already RSVP’d on Facebook. However, given the NPS’s decision to block access to the famous spot, the rally will have to find a different home. Cassady Fendlay, a spokesperson for the women’s march, told The Guardian that the group is in conversations with the police, and that they have secured another location nearby.
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said in a press conference for the Answer (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition that she has worked on lawsuits for protest access on Inauguration Day itself. But banning public land access for days afterward is “extremely unique,” according to The Guardian:
“It hasn’t come up in any way previously, where you’ve had a groundswell of people trying to have access on the Saturday, January 21, and thousands of people want to come, and the government is saying we won’t give you a permit. What they’ve done is take all of these spaces out of action.”
Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the NPS, told The Guardian that each of the blocked-off locations are “construction zones, effectively.” He noted that inauguration bleachers and stands won’t be completely cleared until March 1 from many of the major public spaces.
This post has been updated to show that the Women’s March has found another location.