Does the National Park Service Want to Charge Fees For National Mall Demonstrations?

UPDATE: The public comment period ends October 15, 2018

The National Park Service is now considering charging for free speech demonstrations on the National Mall, according to multiple news services:

WASHINGTON POST: The Trump administration wants to tax protests. What happened to free speech?

CLICK HERE to read the Washington Post editorial opposing fees

CLICK HERE to write a letter to the editor at the Washington Post about this important issue!

WAMU: National Park Service Considers Charging Fees For National Mall Demonstrations

THE HILL: Parks Service to consider fees for demonstrations on National Mall

WJLA: Park Service proposes new rules for National Mall events

The 94-page regulation report entitled “Special Regulations, Areas of the National Park System, National Capital Region, Special” was released on Tuesday presenting 14 possible changes.

Specifically, “Proposed Change” no. 6 states “Consider requiring permit applicants to pay fees to allow the NPS to recover some of the costs of administering permitted activities that contain protected speech.”

NPS spokesman Mike Litterst told WAMU that the proposal was not final and there has been no discussion yet of what the fees would be.

“The federal government and taxpayers shouldn’t be required to underwrite the cost of somebody’s special event, whether it’s a concert, wedding, or gathering of some sort,” he said. “There is an enormous cost to putting on or assisting with some of these larger First Amendment demonstrations.”

Read the entire “DRAFT Proposed” from the National Park Service.

As is too often typical with the National Park Service initiatives, the agency offered no initial public notice or consultation on changing public use of the National Mall until they already had assembled the proposed regulations.

The National Mall Coalition urges the Park Service to initiate an open and public consultation. Priority in any decision making should be given to the Mall’s intended purpose as our country’s preeminent First Amendment public space and its essential role as stage for American democracy. Free speech assemblies on the National Mall should be just that — free.

We encourage citizens to leave opinions during the 60 day commenting period that should begin next week.

  • Electronically: Federal eRulemaking portal:, search for “RIN 1024-AE45.” Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Hardcopy: Mail or hand deliver to National Park Service, National Mall and Memorial Parks, 900 Ohio Drive SW, Washington, DC 20024, Attn: Brian Joyner.

Note: All comments received must include the agency name (National Park Service) and RIN (1024-AE45) for the rulemaking.


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