The Trump administration has come up with a creative new way to silence dissenting voices: charge citizens for speaking out. For the first time, the U.S. government now wants demonstrators to pay to use parks, sidewalks and streets to engage in free speech in the nation’s capital. If enacted, participatory democracy in America would be fundamentally altered, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, adding that “This is really a protest tax and it’s just one element of a larger initiative to close off public space to silence dissent using both financial and physical restrictions.” Under proposals now being considered, the National Park Service would charge protesters “event management” costs, including the cost of barricades and fencing erected at the discretion of the police, the salaries of personnel deployed to monitor the protest, trash removal and sanitation charges, permit application charges and more. This goes beyond just the Mall, to places like the Trump hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, because the NPS maintains control over Pennsylvania Avenue sidewalks. Such a “pay to protest” plan will likely be challenged in court, but in the meantime comments can be submitted here to the National Park Service.
DC LABORFest 2021