‘Free’ Speech? White House Wants to Charge You Money To Protest

How much should free speech cost? You’d think that’s a rhetorical question, but the Trump administration has advanced a plan that would charge protesters to express themselves in places like in front of the White House and the National Mall.

Sign the petition: Tell the White House not to put restrictions on protesting.

Per a proposal from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, demonstrators will have to pay upfront just to file for a permit. If approved, they will also be on the hook for “event management” costs like the salaries and overtime of police/security, barricades that the authorities might want to put up, sanitation needs and resodding the ground if the grass is stepped on (as if the grass isn’t stepped/sat on in this area all the time, protests or not.)

Oh, and if nearby private properties such as the Trump Hotel request to put up additional fencing, protesters would have to pony up for that, as well. Under these rules, it would be ridiculously easy to make protesting prohibitively expensive or at least drain protesters’ bank accounts in a punitive fashion.

The new rules would also severely restrict the amount of space on the sidewalks surrounding the White House that protesters can use. Basically, you’re paying a lot more for a lot less real estate.

If it all seems unconstitutional, that’s because it almost certainly is. During the Vietnam War, the White House tried to forbid protesters from using the White House and National Mall, but the courts ruled that they “constitute a unique [place] for the exercise of First Amendment rights” and demanded that the government actually approve more permits for larger protests at an even faster rate.

On that note, one of the government’s excuses for this new proposed change is that the number of permits for protesting (as well as the number of participants for these protests) has increased in recent years. On the contrary, the chart shows that there are fewer protests now than under George W. Bush and the first couple years of Barack Obama.

However, even if there were truth to a growing number of protests in D.C., shouldn’t that be an indication of the government needing major reform rather than the rules on protesting?

Clearly, the Trump administration views the First Amendment as a burden. The White House has vilified the media and free press and aggressively prosecuted hundreds of protesters at Trump’s inauguration despite lacking evidence to obtain any convictions. The president himself has said, “I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters,” showing no regard for the dissent this country was built on.

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The White House knows the courts won’t agree to get rid of protesting entirely at this point, so for now it’ll settle from inoculating itself from having to hear the complaints of angry citizens. It’s just one of many steps for the ruling class to stifle dissent, and we need to take a stand on this now before we’re not able to anymore.

Sign this petition demanding that Secretary Zinke abandon this plan in order to protect the First Amendment.

Photo Credit: kellybdc


Chad Anderson
Chad A4 months ago

Thank you.

Amanda M
Amanda M5 months ago

Petition signed with a vengeance! This is nothing more than yet another attempt by Twitler and his minions to turn this country into a Rethuglican Religious Reich theocracy that can best be described as the evil offspring of "1984" and "The Handmaid's Tale!" He needs to be thrown into either a public prison or the looney bin, preferably head-first!

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga5 months ago


Celine Russo
Celine Russo5 months ago


Jetana A
Jetana A5 months ago

Free speech should be free of charge! Petition gladly signed for the 2nd or 3rd time.

hELEN hEARFIELD5 months ago


Danuta W
Danuta W5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

David C
David C5 months ago

In response to Ruth G, US democracy already dead in my mind...when Congress (our elected representatives ) does not represent the wishes of the people.....see Kavanaugh, climate change, gun legislation, social security, medicare, ACA or health insurance for starters....

David C
David C5 months ago

all about a buck

Debbi W
Debbi W5 months ago

The illegal numskull in the white house believe that whatever he says becomes true because 'the president said it.' He said he'd run the country like his business. Now he thinks he can profit from protestors! He's a greedy, insane conman. The constitution guarantee our Right to speak out, to protest. There is NO charge/fee to do that. It's a demonstration. They may need to apply for a permit but there is no separate 'fee' to pay. He's already ripped off millions from the government for his personal gain, stopped the FBI from moving to a new location to protect his own hotel in DC, now he's into nickle and dimming. He is insane.