The group behind March for Our Lives, the campaign that hopes to hold a demonstration on March 24 in Washington, D.C., and across the country in the name of gun control, has had their permit denied by the National Park Service.
According to HuffPost, the permit was denied in order to give the whole space to a student talent show instead. Now, organizers are hoping to obtain a permit to hold their rally on Pennsylvania Avenue, marching from the Capitol building to a Trump International Hotel.
National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said that the march permit was not granted simply because it wasn’t the first to request the space for the same date.
According to organizers, over 500,000 people are expected to join the event, which was originally meant to happen only in D.C. but has already spread across the country since its initial announcement.
For the main D.C. event, however, organizers had anticipated using an 11-block stretch of the mall, which they would fill with marchers, 14 tents, 2,000 portable restrooms, 2,000 chairs, and 14 Jumbotrons. But according the the park authority, while organizers detailed these numbers in their permit request, another application had been filed before March for Our Lives earlier the same day.
In the other application, a group asked for space for a “student project” that involves “filming for a talent show.” And while the school’s name has been redacted, the event will make use of two bikes, tables, and jump ropes. Additionally, it should take “a day to finish.”
“By regulation, when there is a conflict of time and location for events, precedence is established by the order in which the permit application was received,” Litterst told reporters.
After denying the permit request, Litterst said the agency suggested March for Our Lives use the West Potomac Park and Pennsylvania Avenue instead.
While students may be heartbroken that their event won’t be held at the location they had initially chosen, it’s good to know that this setback won't keep them from exercising their First Amendment rights.
Still, the very fact that they had to ask permission to use a public space, one that is kept and run by government workers paid by taxpayers, is a contradiction in terms. After all, if Americans’ right to free speech is guaranteed by the United States Constitution, then why do we have to obtain permission to express our views in public from the authorities first?
Ultimately, it is commendable that the group of students chose to follow the rules and were not deterred by the fact that their permit was initially denied.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters/Jonathan Drake