Marjory Stoneman Douglas was an American journalist, author, women’s suffrage advocate, and conservationist known for her staunch defense of the Everglades against efforts to drain it and reclaim land for development. LINK In an ironic twist, Ms. Stoneman Douglas was a staunch supporter of NOT draining the swamp.
Student survivors turned anti-gun violence advocates and leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida are planning a national march on Washington, DC on March 24, 2018. This story is extremely important and deserving of our attention in the weeks to come. However, another issue has surfaced in the last two days which may come as a surprise. According to new Huffington Post LINK and NBC4 LINK articles, Parkland, Florida students and supporters from across the United States have been denied access to the National Mall due to a previous request for a very small portion of the space.
The National Park Service states that their policy on issuing permits is based upon on a “first come, first served” system. Organizers planning the March 24th national rally against gun violence and for raising awareness submitted proper application forms on February 20th. Now, nearly two weeks later, apparently a hand-written (and UNDATED) request has surfaced for several students to use a small portion of the National Mall. This, of course the site of the infamous Donald Trump and Barrack Obama crowd comparisons during and after the Trump inauguration.
Organizers for the March For Our Lives event on March 24, 2018 sought permits for an expected 500,000 people, 2000 chairs, 2000 port-o-lets, 14 jumbo-trons, 14 large tents, and various security measures. This landmark event has now been displaced. By a cast and crew of between 15-25 students, toting several small boxes, 2 tables, 2 bicycles, and small 20-centimeter-high cones to range the filming area. LINK
While first-come, first-served is a fair and equitable policy, we have to question the timing of these recent developments. Would the organizers from Parkland decide upon a date for a national march on Washington without first having been granted permitting? We assume not. This then means that the National Park service, or someone higher up the food chain, must have found a reason to move the March for Our Lives off the National Mall once it was realized the significance and sheer numbers of participants expected.
Flights to DC on or near March 24 are inordinately high priced due to demand. Hotels in the area are filling fast. While we cannot say with certainty that the Trump Administration has orchestrated this change in plans out of fear over crowd-size, we are free to speculate about Donald- J. Trump’s crowd-envy and history of fixation over crowd size. Many reporters very early on spoke of the chance the March for Our Lives event could in fact dwarf Trump’s meager inauguration showing on a similar day and time of year.
We visited MSD High School earlier this week and can speak from personal experience to the conviction and dedication these courageous students and supporters exude. Students who now are forced to attend school under the constant watch of SWAT teams and police cars on every corner are now facing attack from politicians with little to no regard for their plight. We will be writing more on this emerging and all-important subject as the days turn into weeks following one of the most horrific tragedies of our time. Today’s question relates to continued gamesmanship on the parts of the NRA and conservatives in control of our nation’s government and their agencies.
Where politicians and lawmakers fail, our students and citizens will succeed in their stead. Congressmen and Trump have promised “anything and anything” needed to help our victims and fallen neighbors. On March 24, 2018, people from coast to coast plan to take to the streets to raise their voices for real gun laws and changes in our abhorrent gun policy in this country. Donald Trump has invited families into his own White House where he addressed them and appeared to listen. We saw the close-up of the card in the President’s hand that fateful day last week with the reminder to himself of the talking point: “I hear you”. On the reverse of that same card were the words: “Stop the March” scribbled?
Is Donald J. Trump really afraid of the students of our nation marching on his National Lawn? Did the NRA pull some strings and get this event moved? We can only speculate. Here is what we do know. MSD Student Activists and their supporters will not be stymied or delayed. Their march on Washington will not be deterred. Their agenda will be heard. Their mission will be completed. The now planned march down Pennsylvania Ave to a mostly vacant Trump Tower may inadvertently upstage Trump’s planned military parade instead.
March for Our Lives was contacted for this report. We are awaiting a response by a spokesperson via email. The National Park Service did not return our calls.
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