Parks Service to consider fees for demonstrations on National Mall

Parks Service to consider fees for demonstrations on National Mall
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The National Parks Service (NPS) is considering a policy change that would allow it to charge groups that use the National Mall for political events a fee for services and security provided, as well as some restrictions on such protests.

A draft of the proposed rule released by NPS states that the new policy would "[c]onsider requiring permit applicants to pay fees to allow the NPS to recover some of the costs of administering permitted activities that contain protected speech."

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An NPS spokesman told WAMU that the proposal was not final and reflected a desire to shift the burden for such costs from taxpayers to private groups that organize events.

“The federal government and taxpayers shouldn’t be required to underwrite the cost of somebody’s special event, whether it’s a concert, wedding, or gathering of some sort,” Mike Litterst said.

“We’re just asking the question,” he added, saying that no discussion of how large the proposed fees would be has occurred.

In addition to allowing NPS to charge fees for protests on the National Mall, the rule change would also require permits for any structure erected as part of a political protest on the Mall and establish "restricted zones" near monuments where protests cannot occur.

The rule change will be published for public comment starting on Tuesday and lasting for 60 days, according to WAMU. The last time rules concerning protests and security on the National Mall were updated was 2008.