DC could host 10 demonstrations during election week; NPS reviewing permits for prayer, patriotism, and protests

The largest of the First Amendment permit applications calls for 10,000 people to organize with the group ShutDownDC.

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service is reviewing nine permits for demonstrations across the capital during Election Week, with one event approved so far, and the balance drawing attention to issues from election integrity to U.F.O.s.

The largest of the First Amendment permit applications calls for 10,000 people to organize with the group ShutDownDC, as demonstrators engage in a “week of action to ensure free and fair elections.”

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The group came into focus during the summer of 2019 when members blocked traffic throughout the District to highlight climate change inaction.

“This November we’re coming together to take direct action to defend democracy and ensure that every American’s vote counts,” said Hope Neyer, a core organizer with ShutDownDC.

“We’re going to be ready then to take action if something comes up, where it seems to us that the election is being contested, if Trump is refusing to cede power, or if something is going down that is offensive to the American people’s sense of justice.”

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Neyer described organizational efforts for Election Week unfolding since August, with the group planning to meet in Black Lives Matter Plaza on Nov. 3 to watch the election results.

“But from November 4-7, we’re staying fluid, we’re staying ready, and keeping our eyes open,” Neyer said.

A summary of the permit applications indicated the National Park Service approved a prayer vigil for Nov. 1, planned to be held along the White House sidewalk and within Lafayette Park.

The other nine permits are currently under review, including a week-long prayer event hosted by the group Women for a Great America. The gathering near the White House seeks a permit from Nov. 1–7, with organizers saying they will pray for both a peaceful election and for President Trump.

An unusual entry in the permit summary lists a proposed gathering on Nov. 2, “to peacefully protest the state secrecy regarding UFOs and Extraterrestrial Life since the 1940s.” Approximately 1,000 people are expected if approval is granted on the Ellipse.

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The area may also hold a smaller demonstration hours before Election Day, with organizer Kimberly Horton-Hensley calling for an Ellipse event “to bring awareness to and honor all of the people who have died in the US in the past year due to injustice, inactivity or indifference from the current administration.”

The group DC Action Lab also requested a permit to congregate throughout the city Nov. 2–10, calling for a “free Speech demonstration against the election results.”

ABOVE: Summary of First Amendment permit applications in Washington, D.C. for the week of Election Day 2020, via National Park Service.

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