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Don’t restrict speech


October 18, 2018 Letters to the Editor

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New rules on the use of public spaces proposed by the Trump administration and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke pose a grave danger to this country’s most precious free speech rights and must be stopped.

The public comment period for the regulations ended Oct. 15. People around the country are writing in to voice their opposition by going to www.justiceonline.org/save_free_speech.

The proposed regulations impose steep fees and costs on demonstrations in Washington, D.C; effectively ban protests on the White House sidewalks; force protesters to pay the costs of barricades erected at police discretion, park ranger wages and overtime, and harm to grass from standing on it; create waiting periods removing any obligation of the government to promptly process or approve permits; restrict and suppress spontaneous demonstrations that respond to breaking events; create hair-triggers allowing police to end protests for the most minor of issues; restrict sound and staging; ban long term vigils or protest presences; make protesters pay for expensive “turf covers,” among many other radical restrictions of free speech rights.

These changes will affect all parkland under the National Park Service (NPS) in the nation’s capital including the National Mall, Lafayette Park, the White House Sidewalk, Lincoln Memorial, the Ellipse, Freedom Plaza and the sidewalks and parkland along Pennsylvania Avenue — including the sidewalk in front of the Trump Hotel.

This is a dangerous, anti-democratic proposal. If enacted, this will mark the end of free speech as we know it and will be a dystopian model that spreads across the country.

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