WASHINGTON – Protesters will get public sites for demonstrations during Republican Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, a major federal land agency said on Thursday, after being threatened with a lawsuit from civil rights lawyers who accused it of quashing dissent.
Up to 900,000 people are expected to pack into the U.S. capital for the New York businessman’s Jan. 20 swearing-in to his first political office. Some plan to protest Trump’s more controversial promises, including plans to build a wall along the Mexican border and deport illegal immigrants.
Only three of the more than 30 groups seeking to stage rallies either protesting or celebrating Trump’s election independently of the Trump Presidential Inaugural Committee have received permits to use National Park Service land before, during or after Trump’s inauguration.
The agency said it expected to begin issuing permits for demonstration sites on park land in coming days, an announcement that came a few hours after the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund said it would sue if the permits were not issued by Friday.
“We believe that this is a significant victory for free speech. They are doing this under threat of litigation,” Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, the fund’s executive director, said in a telephone interview.