Pro-Trump bik­ers se­cure space for in­au­gu­ra­tion

Per­mits mo­nop­o­lized by planned protests

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY S.A. MILLER

Groups plan­ning to protest Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s in­au­gu­ra­tion next month mo­nop­o­lized the Na­tional Park Ser­vice per­mits to use pub­lic spa­ces around Wash­ing­ton dur­ing the event — un­til Bik­ers for Trump showed up.

Bik­ers for Trump founder Chris Cox said he had to ne­go­ti­ate with Na­tional Park Ser­vice of­fi­cials to find space for the mo­tor­cy­clists be­cause anti-Trump groups had scooped up nearly ev­ery lo­ca­tion for their “dis­rup­tion” events sur­round­ing the Jan. 20 in­au­gu­ra­tion.

Se­cur­ing a des­ig­nated area for the thou­sands of bik­ers ex­pected to roll into Wash­ing­ton to watch Mr. Trump take the oath of of­fice is cru­cial to avoid­ing clashes be­tween the two sides, he said.

“We’ve al­ready won. There’s no rea­son for th­ese guys to be go­ing shoul­der to shoul­der against the Black Lives Mat­ter and the rest of the [protest­ing] guys,” Mr. Cox said. “This is a vic­tory tour.”

The bik­ers are ac­cus­tomed to be­ing out­num­bered and face-to-face with pro­test­ers, hav­ing of­ten set them­selves up as buf­fers be­tween demon­stra­tors and sup­port­ers at Trump ral­lies.

Bik­ers for Trump be­came a po­lit­i­cal move­ment in its own right, as it held mas­sive ral­lies and or­ga­nized sup­port for Mr. Trump across bat­tle­ground states. It was one of just two pro-Trump groups and by far the largest pro-Trump or­ga­ni­za­tion to re­quest per­mits, ac­cord­ing to Na­tional Park Ser­vice records.

The other pro-Trump group, which iden­ti­fied it­self as “Let Amer­ica Hear Us, Roar for Trump!” on its per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion, re­quested use of a small park at Dupont Cir­cle on In­au­gu­ra­tion Day for 500 peo­ple to cel­e­brate and call for a peace­ful tran­si­tion.

Mr. Cox, who re­quested a per­mit for 5,000 peo­ple but noted that as many as 10,000 bik­ers might at­tend, said he was dis­cour­aged from ap­ply­ing last week by the per­mit man­ager at the Na­tional Park Ser­vice Of­fice in Wash­ing­ton.

“She was telling me that they had al­ready given all the per­mits out to the anti-Trump move­ment — per­mits for maybe 100,000 or 200,000 peo­ple,” Mr. Cox re­called. “I wasn’t happy. I told her I had thou­sands and thou­sands of bik­ers com­ing into town, and if she didn’t give me a spot, they were go­ing to be just min­gling around and would end up hang­ing out where all the Trump pro­test­ers are, and there’s go­ing to be big prob­lems and then peo­ple are go­ing to won­der why.”

Na­tional Park Ser­vice spokesman Michael Lit­terst said the per­mit­ting de­ci­sions are made ir­re­spec­tive of a group’s af­fil­i­a­tion. How­ever, he said the scarcity of avail­able space is con­sis­tent with the agency’s first-come, first-serve pol­icy.

“I don’t know the specifics of how the plans for the Bik­ers for Trump event have evolved or what their spe­cific dis­cus­sions have been with staff, but that sce­nario aligns with how our per­mit­ting process works in gen­eral,” he said. “Per­mits are pro­cessed in the or­der in which they are re­ceived, and when there are con­flicts for lo­ca­tion and/or time, the first group to sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tion gets first use.”

Mr. Cox said that he even­tu­ally was able to sub­mit the re­quest for use of John Mar­shal Park in the Ju­di­ciary Square neigh­bor­hood, not far from the U.S. Capi­tol and just off the in­au­gu­ral pa­rade route.

He said he also is ne­go­ti­at­ing with the In­au­gu­ral Com­mit­tee for bik­ers to par­tic­i­pate in the pa­rade.

Bik­ers for Trump are ex­pected to come from as far as Cal­i­for­nia for the in­au­gu­ra­tion, in­clud­ing large con­tin­gents from Florida and Penn­syl­va­nia.

Still, their num­bers are dwarfed by groups such as Pro­gres­sive In­de­pen­dent Party, a lib­eral ac­tivist group that re­quested two per­mits for a to­tal of 15,000 demon­stra­tors to use of var­i­ous parks around the city dur­ing for sev­eral days sur­round­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion.

The group’s Face­book page dis­played a ban­ner with an im­age of the Capi­tol cov­ered by a “oc­cupy in­au­gu­ra­tion” logo.

The lib­eral protest-for-hire group DC Ac­tion Lab re­quested a per­mit for 10,000 peo­ple, Real Pro­gres­sives re­quested space for 2,500 and Peo­ple’s Ac­tion re­quested space for an­other 2,000.

The largest or­ga­nized event seek­ing per­mit is the Gath­er­ing for Jus­tice’s “Women’s March on Wash­ing­ton” slated for Jan. 21, with an ex­pected turnout of 200,000 demon­stra­tors.

The per­mit ap­pli­ca­tion said the goal of the march was to “come to­gether in sol­i­dar­ity to ex­press to the new ad­min­is­tra­tion & congress that women’s rights are hu­man rights and our power can­not be ig­nored.”

Be­yond those seek­ing per­mits, a host of anti-Trump groups are call­ing on fol­low­ers to con­verge on the in­au­gu­ra­tion through the #Dis­ruptJ20 cam­paign on so­cial me­dia.

The Face­book page “Protest at the In­au­gu­ra­tion: Stand Against Trump, War, Racism and In­equal­ity” had 33,000 peo­ple ex­press­ing in­ter­est in the page and 10,000 peo­ple pledg­ing to at­tend the demon­stra­tions.

Un­der a #Dis­ruptJ20 ban­ner, the web­site It­sGo­ingDown.Org called for a “bold mo­bi­liza­tion” against the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Mr. Trump.

“Trump stands for tyranny, greed, and misog­yny. He is the cham­pion of neo-nazis and white Na­tion­al­ists, of the po­lice who kill the Black, Brown and poor on a daily ba­sis, of racist bor­der agents and sadis­tic prison guards, of the FBI and NSA who tap your phone and read your email,” read the post. “The KKK, Vladimir Putin, Golden Dawn, and the Is­lamic State all cheered his vic­tory. If we let his in­au­gu­ra­tion go un­chal­lenged, we are open­ing the door to the fu­ture they en­vi­sion.”

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