National Park Service Prepares for Inauguration Day Protests

Thousands of protesters are expected in D.C. for Monday’s inaugural parade, and the U.S. National Park Service has set aside space for demonstrations against war, high unemployment and other national issues.

Downtown D.C. is quickly becoming a secure zone for Inauguration Day. Five groups have permits for protesting.

“They have to apply for a permit and give us what time they are going to be here, what they're going to do and about how many people they have, but as I said, we accommodate them,” National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said. “It's their right to be here.”

Only three of the five protest groups will be along Pennsylvania Avenue this year, compared to six for President Barack Obama’s first inauguration. The Westboro Baptist Church said it expects 25 demonstrators near its spot close to Third Street to remind people that there is a God and a day of judgment.

The best-known protest group is the ANSWER coalition, which says it expects several thousand demonstrators on Inauguration Day, which also is the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. They will speak out for the unemployed and demand jobs and justice.

“The least among us, as Dr. King would say, to agitate, educate and mobilize from the bottom, to have those voices for those who are still struggling, those who Dr. King would be standing for,” said Eugene Puryear, of ANSWER.

The ANSWER coalition will gather at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, just blocks from the White House, but the protest is bigger than Obama, ANSWER said.

“It’s to send a message to all politicians, not just the president but the senators, the congressmen, all the big business people that these are the problems, the problems of ordinary working people, that we need to be tackling,” Puryear said.

Reform America Created Equal will hold a pro-life demonstration at the southeast corner of the U.S. Naval Memorial. About 20 people are expected.

At Dupont Circle, about 100 people with the Elaine Wooten Organization will demonstrate about environmental issues and complexities of Native American treaty obligations.

And the Arc of Justice Coalition will rally with speeches and music for the First Amendment at Meridian Hill. One hundred demonstrators are expected.

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