The National Park Service has refused a permit for the March for Our Lives anti-gun rally at the National Mall in Washington so that part of the space can be used instead for a student talent show.
Organizers of the March 24 protest are now seeking a permit to use Pennsylvania Avenue on a route that would take them from the Capitol to Trump International Hotel, NBC-4 reported.
The massive anti-gun rally, spearheaded by survivors of the Feb. 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people, is expected to draw 500,000 marchers. It was planned for an 11-block stretch of the mall, with sound systems, 14 Jumbotrons, 2,000 chairs, 2,000 portable johns and 14 tents, according to the permit application the group filed Feb. 20. Students and other speakers, musicians and video tributes are planned for the event.
“March for Our Lives is created by students across the country who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that has become all too familiar,” organizers wrote in the application.
But another application, written by hand, was filed earlier for the space for the same day. That group sought permission for a “student project” related to “filming for a talent show,” according to the paperwork. The name of the school was redacted by the Park Service. The event will require jump ropes, two bikes and two tables. The project “takes a day to finish. Games will be the main activity for filming,” according to the application.
National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said permits are granted on a first-come, first-served system, regardless of what the space is used for.
“By regulation, when there is a conflict of time and location for events, precedence is established by the order in which the permit application was received,” Litterst told National Public Radio.
Litterst said the Park Service typically works with organizers of displaced events to find an alternative space. He suggested West Potomac Park and Pennsylvania Avenue.
The stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue now being eyed by the marchers —3rd Street NW to 12th Street NW — is within the District of Columbia’s jurisdiction, not a federal agency’s.
Anti-gun marches are planned for the same day at other locations across the country, as well as in other countries.
A message on the March for Our LivesFacebook page reads: “On March 24 we will take to the streets of Washington, DC and our communities across the country. We will be the last group of students who have to stand up for fallen children due to senseless gun violence. March with us.”
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