After being threatened with legal action, the National Park Service started releasing permits to allow protests during the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on January 20. Washington bureau reporter Alberto Pimienta filed the following report.
For one of the groups that will be protesting during the inauguration, this announcement comes too late.
"It makes it very difficult to organize, to tell people that we have a permit, to make the necessary logistical preparations when we only have a permit in hand two weeks before the event," said Ben Becker of the ANSWER Coalition.
Immediately after the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund threatened the National Park Service with legal action, the NPS started releasing permits.
The ANSWER Coalition was the first group to get one. Permits for around 25 other organizations are now being granted.
"Basically, what the Park Service did is, it delegated discretion to Trump's presidential inaugural committee to decide if when or whether people were going to be able to protest Trump," said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. "Now that, we believe, is fundamentally unconstitutional."
But these groups say the National Park Service wasn't the only one to blame. NPS gave control of some public land here in Washington D.C. to the Presidential Inaugural Committee. According to those groups, the committee was trying to suppress free speech.
"We believe the Trump Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is a private organization that is funded by banks and corporations in league with the National Park Service, has done its best to delay people's abilities to organize," Becker said.
NY1 reached out to the Inaugural Committee and didn't hear back.
In a statement, the Park Service says federal regulations establish preference to the Committee, but also added, "There is ample space outside of those areas for the viewing public and those seeking to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble and be heard."
Another spot that was going to be included in the lawsuit was an area by the White House known as the Ellipse. The Park Service now says demonstrators will be able to protest there on January 21, the day after the inauguration.