Only a few protests have been permitted for next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., as officials implement unprecedented security measures amid warnings of possible attacks by groups involved in the Jan. 6 pro-Trump siege of the Capitol.
Only four significant First Amendment protest applications for the National Mall and nearby parklands were made to the National Park Service for next week, according to the agency. At least two of these have been canceled, organizers of the events told Reuters. Some applications for planned events were submitted more than a year ago, before coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, social distancing and mask requirements began.
In 2017, the NPS granted permits to 27 protest groups, some of which sought to disrupt President Donald Trump’s inauguration. The NPS requires a permit for demonstrations of more than 25 people on most parkland locations within its jurisdiction.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Saturday requested federal officials cancel Park Service public gathering permits issued through Jan 24 altogether, as officials amp up security measures in Washington, including road closures and 20,000 National Guards.
This year’s permits include two made a year ago, in anticipation of a second Trump inauguration. Representatives for Both DC Action Lab and the Answer Coalition said that they were no longer planning events given Biden’s victory.
A pro-Trump group, “Let America Hear Us, Roar For Trump” also applied a year ago for a motorcycle rally permit at several district parks. The group’s Facebook page refers to a 2017 rally, and organizer Mark “Ski” Bischof could not be reached for comment.
Black Pact is advertising a “March for Reparations” event for Jan. 21, the day after the inauguration, at Black Lives Matter Plaza, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. The application expects 5,000 participants.
No permits were being granted for marches next week on district streets where the local police have jurisdiction, a D.C. Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said.
Some streets, like Constitution Avenue, which Trump supporters marched on to the Capitol Jan. 6, are under the jurisdiction of the NPS.
A spokesman for the agency said a decision had yet to be made on whether to close the National Mall, which runs from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.
During past inaugurations, hundreds of thousands of people have watched the president take the oath of office on big screen televisions positioned on the Mall.
Mayor Bowser’s mask order for pandemic requires masks outdoors when a person is expected to come into within six feet of others. Many participants in recent pro-Trump rallies have routinely ignored the mandate.