Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security costs

Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security costs
© Greg Nash

The National Park Service (NPS) is withdrawing a proposal that would have charged protesters for the security costs associated with demonstrating on the National Mall.

The controversial proposal spurred 140,000 public comments, with many concerned it would impede First Amendment rights.

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Securing a permit to use the National Mall already requires groups to cover the costs of providing toilets, on-site medical tents and other amenities.

“There are already a lot of preexisting fees that organizers get asked to pay. Add in something like a security fee, and there’s just no way most people or organizations would be able to afford it,” Samantha Miller, an organizer with DC Action Lab, a company that helps organize protests, told The Washington Post

The park service did not give a reason for withdrawing the proposal, but it did explain the rationale for introducing it.

“The volume and complexity of permit requests has increased dramatically over the years,” NPS said in a statement. “The intent of the proposed revisions was to maintain the public’s opportunity to hold special events and right to demonstrate while outlining clear parameters that protect the iconic landmarks, views and grounds for use and enjoyment of citizens and visitors from around the globe.”

The National Mall has always been a popular location to stage protests, but the rate of demonstrations has increased under the Trump administration. The Women’s March, March for Science and March for Our Lives have all held major events on the National Mall.