(New York, NY) – The National Park Service today decided to abandon an effort to restrict the public’s ability to organize demonstrations in the Nation’s capital. PEN America expressed appreciation to the many Members and supporters who joined forces to oppose the unconstitutional proposal. Last October, PEN America joined with other groups defending the First Amendment to raise public awareness of the plans and rally supporters to make their voices heard in opposition to the ill-considered action by the Trump administration.

“We are thrilled to see the right to protest in our nation’s capital preserved with today’s decision by the National Park Service. The fact that 140,000 people took time to provide formal comments to the Park Service clearly had an impact,” said PEN America’s Washington director Thomas O. Melia. “We are grateful to the many PEN Members and supporters who joined us in calling out this attempt to sidestep the constitutional right to free assembly. The robust public response to this misguided effort proves exactly why protest rights must be defended. Mobilization matters, and in this case, common sense – and the First Amendment – prevailed.”

From the 1963 March on Washington to the Women’s March in 2017, Washington, D.C. has been home to the most dramatic and important public protests in our nation’s history. The proposed changes would have affected all the iconic locations where protests typically occur: the National Mall, Lafayette Park, the White House sidewalk, Lincoln Memorial, the Ellipse, Freedom Plaza, as well as the sidewalks and parkland along Pennsylvania Avenue, including the sidewalk in front of the Trump Hotel.

Read our prior statement on the proposal to tax protests in the nation’s capital.


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, sfee@pen.org, +1 202 309 8892