No Permits Yet Granted To Expected Inauguration Protesters
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Lots of people are making plans to come to Washington, D.C., next month for President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration. Some will come and cheer. Others plan to protest, but there's some controversy over where they'll get to do that. NPR's Pam Fessler reports.
PAM FESSLER, BYLINE: Thousands of protesters greeted George W. Bush's motorcade as it rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue in January 2001.
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UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting, unintelligible).
FESSLER: And now some people are hoping to give Donald Trump a similar greeting, if not on Inauguration Day, then on his first full day in office.
YASMINA MRABET: We have buses coming from Philadelphia, New York, New Haven, Boston, Chicago, cities in Florida.
FESSLER: Yasmina Mrabet is an organizer with a left-wing group called the ANSWER Coalition. It expects to bring in tens of thousands of protesters with one simple message.
MRABET: Our slogan is stop the Trump agenda.
FESSLER: Especially when it comes to restrictions on immigrants, Muslims and women. These protesters hope to get as close as they can to the parade on Inauguration Day and to march the next day from the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House. On that day, they might also join up with many thousands of others heading to Washington for what's being called the Women's March.
MRINALINI CHAKRABORTY: We all just felt like we needed to do something.
FESSLER: Mrinalini Chakraborty is the Illinois organizer for the march which she says is a national grassroots response to the frustration that many people felt after Trump's election. She expects as many as 60 busloads of marchers from her state alone.
CHAKRABORTY: I can only hope that this massive gathering, you know, reminds him that now he is president, and he represents all of us.
FESSLER: But it's not clear just how close the protesters will be able to get to Trump. The Women's March has received a permit to gather near the Capitol, but it was unable, like other groups, to get permits to demonstrate at the Lincoln Memorial or other sites closer to the White House.
The National Park Service has given Trump's Presidential Inaugural Committee the right of first refusal for most of these sites. Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst says once the committee decides what it needs, they can begin handing out permits to the more than 20 other groups that have applied.
MIKE LITTERST: 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.
FESSLER: But some groups like the ANSWER Coalition are challenging that process in court. Mara Verheyden-Hilliard is an attorney with the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. She says barring the protesters from federal land is unconstitutional.
MARA VERHEYDEN-HILLIARD: When you have an incoming administration, the people have the right to communicate to that administration what they think and what they believe.
FESSLER: The park service responds that much of the area along the parade route is already open to the public and that it's doing what it can to accommodate everyone's requests. In fact, one group - Bikers for Trump - has already gotten the OK to use a park near the Capitol that wasn't set aside for the inaugural committee. Bikers for Trump expects to have 5,000 motorcyclists in town to celebrate Trump's election. Pam Fessler, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.