National Parks: Turning Against the Public



Kaetlyn Dembkoski
Staff Writer 

Since his inauguration, President Trump’s most recent endeavors have been to remove previous laws. These include the Johnson Amendment regulating election campaign donations, preventing particular people from entering the country, as well as set his plans for a wall between America and Mexico with full force forward.

The results of these plans have left our United States less united, and thus in a constant fight with one another on our beliefs.

Regardless of who they are, people from both sides of the coin have risen up in the past few weeks to make their stances clear on their opinions of America’s potential downfall or its prosperity based on the changes that have already began to take root.

Along with those individuals, specific places and companies have also taken their own stances on the matters, sometimes siding with individuals, other times not. In preparation for the President’s inaugural parade, many of the surrounding areas granted access to individuals in order to rent out space for people to watch the parade and hear the speech.

A few of said locations that gave their space to the public were the mall between First, Fourteenth streets NW and the Ellipse by the White House, as well the land around the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.

With the amount of locations available for people to gather being so great, one would not expect that any issue with granting out space leading up to the inauguration would be likely to happen.

However, while many are trying to ignore its existence, this indeed did happen. About twenty groups, including the Women’s March on Washington, People’s Action, and the ANSWER Coalition, had applied to gain access to demonstrate their opinions on the property on January 20.

Rather than the coordinators getting their proper permits in a timely manner, these groups were told to wait to receive their necessary documents. For possible participants of the Women’s March on Washington, many people who planned to participate had to cancel due to the permits not being granted, causing fear that they would have to pay for expensive non-refundable hotels and flights to Washington D.C. without being able to actually protest as they desired.

Many people view national parks as simply a place to gather for a common reason. However, in looking at our national parks, as well as the National Parks Service in its entirety, a question that surfaces from this is, how should national parks function in response to matters such as the election beyond the park’s usual interests?

Whether that reason be for having a picnic or protesting the recent election and the sudden change that have occurred due to it the location should not have any purpose by which to send them away. In this regard, are they turning into more political locations than they should be?

The understanding that national parks are just convening places still holds strong despite what context the meeting has. For the protesters that planned to attend the inauguration, to have their meeting place briefly prevent their attendance makes the park system an unnecessary opposition. The permits should instead have been immediately distributed upon being asked for them, especially with the permits being doled out first-come, first serve.

As for the National Parks Services, by acting this way towards protesters for this single event, they have set a bad note for themselves. National parks are exactly how they sound to be – national. A place where we, as individuals or groups, can gather and speak our minds freely without having to fear being arrested for those beliefs.

However, by taking hostile stances against peaceful protesters, this leaves many wondering where it is safe to speak anymore. If we as citizens are not granted places beyond the privacy of our homes to speak out against things that we find challenge our beliefs, how are we supposed to speak at all?

This move by the National Park Services seems to only have succeeded in silencing the voices of groups who have already been silenced before.

Where do we stand now? A problem has arisen in both the figurative and literal sense of this phrase. More importantly, where do national parks as well as other public locations stand, with or against the public?

To make matters worse for the parks, now the President himself has begun turning against the parks by freezing their hiring, right before the “high season” or large groups of visitors to these parks is approaching.

With the results of the past election already making people high strung, President Trump has been taking hits on all sides, not leaving anybody out of his attacks. Despite the fact that the parks worked in his favor during inauguration, he did not hesitate to freeze their business for the summer months in order to place funds elsewhere.

Perhaps, rather than turning against one another in response to Trump’s presidency, individuals and corporations should begin to realize that they are both being targeted and join forces to double their chances of being heard.

Categories: Opinions, Uncategorized

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