UPDATE 11/10/2018: The regulations.gov website has updated the count of comments submitted, it now stands at over 140,000!
UPDATE 10/19/2018: The regulations.gov website has updated the count of comments submitted, it now stands at 90,546.
The National Park Service is considering new regulations for protests that would severely curtail the right to protest. Defending Rights & Dissent has been mobilizing against these proposals. We submitted our own comments. We also joined comments initiated by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund that were signed by 36 civil rights, labor, justice & peace organizations and comments initiated by The Wilderness Society that were signed by over 80 civil society groups.
There has been an outpouring of reactions to these new regulations. The comment period closed on October 15. We don’t yet know the total number of comments received, but so far the NPS has counted over 71,000 comments. This count is still growing.
If enacted, these regulations would close off much of the area around White House to protest and revoke the “24 hour rule,” which deems permit applications not rejected within 24 hours granted. In addition to revoking the 24 hour rule, these new regulations would create a new status “provisionally reserved,” allowing the NPS to leave the status of a protest in limbo until 40 days before the protest or less, which is not enough time to organize a large protest. In addition to leaving protest organizers in limbo, these regulations would lower the standard need to revoke a permit.
The most jarring part of the NPS proposal is, however, the floating of an idea to make people pay to protest, by forcing protest organizers to pay for the costs of protests, including the cost of putting up barricades or the cost of “monitoring” the protest.