This week­end’s March for Science is the next big protest in D.C., a fa­mil­iar scene in the Trump era.

Sat­ur­day’s March for Science is yet an­other sam­pling of protest sea­son

The Washington Post - - METRO - BY PERRY STEIN perry.stein@wash­

Wash­ing­to­ni­ans will have front-row seats this week­end to wit­ness what has be­come a fa­mil­iar back­yard scene: an­other protest on the Mall.

Ac­tivists and sci­en­tists are ex­pected to de­scend on the na­tion’s cap­i­tal Sat­ur­day to rally for en­vi­ron­men­tal causes and gov­ern­ment poli­cies rooted in sci­en­tific re­search as part of the Earth Day and March for Science ral­lies. The demon­stra­tion comes a week af­ter the Tax March and a week be­fore the Peo­ple’s Cli­mate March.

Protests are stan­dard on the Mall, and from the 1963 March on Wash­ing­ton to the re­cent Women’s March, his­tory has been made there time and time again. But, com­pared with re­cent years, the Trump era has seen a marked in­crease in demon­stra­tions on the city’s fed­eral land.

The protests are of­ten fu­eled by those with left-lean­ing po­lit­i­cal views who were sur­prised by Trump’s vic­tory but have not been quelled by his poli­cies and ac­tions since tak­ing of­fice.

“I still wake up with pal­pi­ta­tions,” said Michele Hooper, a 62year-old physi­cian from Cal­i­for­nia who at­tended the Women’s March and the Tax March. She plans to at­tend the science rally this week­end.

The Na­tional Park Ser­vice, which over­sees the Mall, has fielded 33 per­cent more re­quests this year for per­mits to protest on the Dis­trict’s fed­eral land than it had at this time last year, said Mike Lit­terst, a spokesman for the agency. The Park Ser­vice had re­ceived 197 per­mit re­quests for demon­stra­tions as of Wed­nes­day, com­pared with 148 at the same time in 2016.

That num­ber does not in­clude un­per­mit­ted protests and others that have spon­ta­neously un­folded in front of build­ings, such as the U.S. Capi­tol and En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency head­quar­ters.

This month, three high-pro­file protests — the Tax March, Earth Day and Science March, and Cli­mate March — are planned on con­sec­u­tive week­ends. Lit­terst said sev­eral more are sched­uled into the sum­mer, with large im­mi­grant and LGBT ral­lies planned for May and June.

He said the in­creased in­ter­est in per­mits has added to the Park Ser­vice staff work­load but wrote in an email that the agency has “been able to meet the grow­ing de­mand while en­sur­ing the preser­va­tion of park re­sources and the safety of event par­tic­i­pants and Na­tional Mall vis­i­tors.”

Per­mits for the Earth Day and Science March in­di­cate or­ga­niz­ers ex­pect more than 50,000 peo­ple to at­tend, which would make it the largest rally in Wash­ing­ton since the Women’s March in Jan­uary.

The Earth Day Net­work, the or­ga­ni­za­tion that spear­heads the an­nual Earth Day rally and af­fil­i­ated events world­wide, be­gan plan­ning Sat­ur­day’s rally long be­fore Elec­tion Day. This year, sci­en­tists who say the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has dis­re­garded or de­val­ued sci­en­tific re­search are join­ing the ef­fort — a rare po­si­tion for the typ­i­cally apo­lit­i­cal field of science.

The rally is set for 10 a.m. at the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment and will fea­ture dozens of short speeches and videos, said Kath­leen Rogers, pres­i­dent of the Earth Day Net­work. At about 2 p.m., at­ten­dees will march to­ward the U.S. Capi­tol.

The theme of this year’s event is en­vi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate lit­er­acy. Celebrity sci­en­tist Bill Nye is among the speak­ers.

“Hell hath no fury like a sci­en­tist scorned, and that’s es­sen­tially where we are,” Rogers said. “Peo­ple will be march­ing be­cause their in­tegrity and hon­esty has been called into ques­tion. This is a new and en­er­gized con­stituency — they just hap­pen to be wear­ing lab coats.”

Pro­test­ers at re­cent marches say they have chan­neled their dis­con­tent with the new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s poli­cies into the demon­stra­tions.

At the Tax March last week­end, at­ten­dees said the protests were ef­fec­tive, cred­it­ing demon­stra­tions through­out the coun­try with thwart­ing Trump’s travel ban plans and stymieing the Repub­li­cans’ pro­posed health-care plan.

“I feel this keeps me sane,” said Susie Sin­clair-Smith, a Bethesda res­i­dent who at­tended the Women’s March and the Tax March and plans to at­tend the rally this week­end. “I’m hop­ing I get more en­er­gized by com­ing here.”

D.C. res­i­dent Rosanne Lush said she is en­cour­aged by at­tend­ing protests and see­ing thou­sands who share her po­lit­i­cal views.

“When you go to th­ese events, you see there are other peo­ple who feel the same way as you,” she said. “There’s some­thing to be said for show­ing num­bers.”


Par­tic­i­pants in the March for Life, an an­nual rally protest­ing abor­tion, walk along Con­sti­tu­tion Av­enue from the Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment to the Supreme Court on Jan. 27.


Sev­eral women from Iowa City gather dur­ing the Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton in Jan­uary.

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