Washington Monument closing due to threats to disrupt Biden inauguration

U.S. & World

The Washington Monument is seen in the background as pro-Trump protesters break through barriers onto the grounds of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Days after a rally of thousands of President Donald Trump’s supporters led to a siege of the U.S. Capitol, the National Park Service is shutting down access to the Washington Monument for roughly two weeks.

The National Park Service announced its temporarily closing access to the monument until Jan. 24, citing threats surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The agency said Monday that it was implementing the temporary closure “in response to credible threats to visitors and park resources.”

Park officials said that groups involved in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol are continuing to “threaten to disrupt” Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. As a result, officials are shutting down tours at the Washington Monument beginning Monday, running through Jan. 24.

They said they may also institute some temporary closures to roads, parking areas and restrooms on the National Mall and could extend the closures “if the conditions persist.”

“These temporary closures are based upon a determination, in consultation with the local authorities, that such actions are necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety,” NPS said.

It was unclear whether the closures would prevent the National Park Service from issuing new public gathering permits for First Amendment demonstrations on the National Mall between now and Jan. 24. A spokesman for the Park Service could not immediately be reached for comment.

The permit for the Jan. 6 rally in support of President Donald Trump that led to violence at the Capitol was issued to “Women for America First,” a group that has been involved in other pro-Trump rallies in Washington challenging the Nov. 3 election results.

Gatherings of more than 25 people on the Mall normally need a permit from the Park Service. Last week’s rally permit was initially listed for 5,000 people but later expanded to 30,000. 

READ THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE’S FULL STATEMENT:

“Pursuant to 36 CFR § 1.5(a)(1) the National Mall and Memorial Parks is implementing temporary closures of National Park Service public facilities, parking areas and roadways in response to credible threats to visitors and park resources. Groups involved in the January 6, 2021 riots at the US Capitol continue to threaten to disrupt the 59th presidential inauguration on January 20, 2021. This includes the set up and execution of inaugural events, which occur in several park areas. In response, the National Park Service will suspend tours of the Washington Monument beginning January 11, 2021 through January 24, 2021 and may institute temporary closures of public access to roadways, parking areas and restrooms within the National Mall and Memorial Parks if conditions warrant, to protect public safety and park resources. These temporary closures may be extended if the conditions persist. The National Park Service will reopen areas as it determines that the conditions of concern are no longer present.

Limits on athletic activity and temporary closures to public access to Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site, Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, and Old Post Office Tower are already in effect in response to the pandemic, and are described in a separate Record of Determination dated November 23, 2020.

These temporary closures are based upon a determination, in consultation with the local authorities, that such actions are necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety. These temporary closures will begin January 11, 2021 and will remain in effect through January 24, 2021, but may be extended if conditions persist.

The temporary closures are not of a nature, magnitude or duration that will result in a “significant alteration in the public use pattern.” The closures will not adversely affect the park’s natural aesthetic or cultural values, nor require significant modification to the resource management objection, nor is it of a highly controversial nature.

Accordingly, the National Park Service determines publication as rulemaking in the Federal Register is unwarranted under 36 CFR § 1.5(c). This determination is consistent with hundreds of earlier partial or temporary closures, the legal opinion of the Office of the Solicitor, and judicial adjudications that have upheld other NPS closures and public use limitations. Spiegel v. Babbitt, 855 F. Supp. 402 (D.D.C. 1994) affd in part w/o op. 56 F. 3d 1531 (D.C. Cir. 1995), reported in full, 1995 US App. Lexis 15200 (D.C. Cir. May 31, 1995); ANSWER Coalition v. Norton, No. 05-0071, (D.D.C. January 18, 2005), Mahoney v. Norton, No. 02-1715 (D.D.C. August 22, 2002), plaintiff’s emergency motion for appeal for injunction pending appealed denied Mahoney v. Norton, No. 02-5275 (D.C. Cir. September 9, 2002) (per curium); Picciotto v. United States, No. 99-2113 (D.D.C. August 6, 1999); Picciotto v. Lujan, No. 90-1261 (D.D.C. May 30, 1990) Picciotto v. Hodel, No. 87-3290 (D.D.C. December 7, 1987).

Pursuant to 36 CFR § 1.5(c), 1.7, notice of these temporary and partial closures will be made through roadway gates and the posting of signs at conspicuous locations in the affected park area. Finally, pursuant to 36 CFR § 1.5(c), this determination is available to the public upon request.”

Jeffrey Reinbold, Superintendent OF National Mall and Memorial Parks

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