Anti-Trump Protesters Upset They Haven't Been Assigned Inauguration Day Sites
By Pam Fessler
Thousands of people are expected in Washington, D.C., next month to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump. They'll join thousands more who will be there to celebrate the incoming president.
But sorting out which group gets to be where is causing controversy.
Yasmina Mrabet, an organizer with the left-wing Answer Coalition, says her group expects to bring in protesters from around the country.
"We have buses coming from Philadelphia, New York, New Haven, Boston, Chicago, cities in Florida," she says. The group's slogan is "Stop the Trump Agenda." Mrabet says they're especially opposed to imposing new restrictions on immigrants, Muslims and women's reproductive rights.
These protesters hope to be along the parade route on Inauguration Day and then to march the next day from the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue toward the White House. But they say they've been hampered by the National Park Service, which almost a year ago blocked off key sites for use by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Mike Litterst, a Park Service spokesman, says this is the process that's been used for previous inaugurations. And that until Trump's Inaugural Committee decides what property it does and doesn't need for the festivities, the Park Service is unable to approve permits for the more than 20 other groups that have requested use of those sites.
"I think what a lot of people are missing is that this is a process and procedures that are established in the code of federal regulations and they are applied equally across the board, regardless of who had won," he says.
The Answer Coalition is challenging that process in federal court, and is awaiting a decision on its appeal of an earlier ruling in favor of the government. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney with the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund who is representing the coalition, argues that barring the protesters from federal land is unconstitutional.
"When you have an incoming administration, the people have the right to communicate to that administration what they think and what they believe," she says. "And people have a right to be within sight and sound of the White House. They shouldn't have to be pushed off two miles away."