Locals in the nation’s capital are used to protests in their town; They have been a fixture in this city for many, many decades. Sometimes, these events draw a million people, sometimes a dozen. They can be raucous, dramatic, heartfelt, amazing, amusing, disturbing and, yes, violent. The city may see all of those Sunday when several factions have their say in Lafayette Park, an attractive seven-acre public space directly across from the White House.
“Lafayette Park has been used as a race track, a graveyard, a zoo, an encampment for soldiers during the War of 1812, and many political protests and celebrations,” according to National Park Service historic records.
Indeed. Those who want to rally for a cause in this historic spot or along the National Mall must make a formal application with the meticulous federal parks agency — which issues official permits for “demonstrations such as speeches, picketing, vigils and other activities designed to communicate a message,” according to guidelines.
Organizers for the “Unite the Right” rally — which marks the one-year anniversary of a violent event in Charlottesville, Virginia — have a permit. So do two large coalitions of interest groups who oppose them.
Sixteen streets around the park will be closed. Those who keep order have a mission which has long been in place.
In a recent press conference, D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham said the law enforcement role “is to make sure that we have a First Amendment event that goes on without any types of violence or destruction of property.”
There will be many exercising those First Amendment rights on Sunday.
One coalition alone includes these groups: ANSWER Coalition, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Justice First, Link UP, Justice Center en El Barrio NYC, ONE DC, Internationalist Students Front-George Washington University, GW Queer Radicals, Philadelphia Liberation Center, GW Progressive Student Union, GW Young Democratic Socialists of America, Students for Justice in Palestine, CodePink, People Power Action, and Stop Police Terror Project.
Hopefully, these events will take place without violence. Hopefully.
It’s an issue that’s got the attention of U.S. voters. Eight of 10 voters, according to a new Politico/Morning Consult poll, say “political violence” a serious issue — and two thirds believe it to be widespread.
The poll also found that six 10 say political violence has not affected their personal daily lives. See more — including opinions from Republicans, independents and Democrats — in the Poll du Jour at column’s end.
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