NPS issues final permits for counter-demonstrations in D.C.

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WASHINGTON (WCAV) — UPDATE (Aug. 10):

The National Park Service has approved two more permits for rallies that will be held in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.

The two newest permits are for counter-demonstrations by the New York Black Lives Matter, Inc. and Thomas Oh US Congress.

This brings the total number of approved permits to five, including Jason Kessler's for his Unite the Right 2.

On Wednesday, a permit was approved for a group called Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America or D.C. United Against Hate.

On Thursday, Kessler's permit was approved, as was a permit for the ANSWER Coalition, which combined this group with D.C. United Against Hate.

Another individual named Gene Stilp also received an approval to hold a small rally.

According to one counter-protest organizer, there will be up to 30 organizations in D.C. this weekend making sure their voices will also be heard against the hate groups.

"No one on the counter-protest side will initiate violence," said Mark Lance, a professor of Peace and Justice at Georgetown University in Washington and an organizer. "I believe I can say that unequivocally, the entire ideology of the white supremacist side is a violent one."

But he adds that no one will stand by if attacked.

"There's a diversity of tactics, some of us in the rally, we are going to make a safe space for families or anyone else who wants to turn out, we have security who are trained in de-escalation," said Lance.

You can find all the permits on the NPS website below:

Jason Kessler
DC United Against Hate
ANSWER Coalition
Gene Stilp
New York Black Lives Matter, Inc.
Thomas Oh US Congress

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UPDATE (Aug. 9):

The National Park Service has approved Jason Kessler's permit request to hold a rally in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.

The Washington, D.C. Police Department announced on Thursday the approval for the "Unite the Right 2" rally.

It's being held on the anniversary of the first 'Unite the Right' rally on Aug. 12, 2017, that resulted in the murder of a counter-protester and the deaths of two Virginia state troopers.

Permits for two counter-demonstrations were also approved, one on Wednesday evening and the second on Thursday.

That included demonstrations planned by the ANSWER Coalition and the Partnership for Civil Justice, Inc.

One other permit request is still pending.

According to police during a press conference, the groups will be kept separate and there will be an emergency operations center running to coordinate any necessary response.

D.C. authorities will be on high alerts for anyone seen with a firearm.

In Charlottesville, Kessler's request for a permit was denied by the city. He sued over that decision, but ultimately dropped the lawsuit in a surprise to his lawyers.

The city is still preparing for protesters and Gov. Ralph Northam preemptively declared a state of emergency for Virginia and Charlottesville specifically.

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UPDATE (Aug. 8):

The permit for Jason Kessler's "white civil rights" rally still has not been issued by the National Park Service.

However, on Wednesday, the NPS issued a permit for one of the three counter demonstrations planned for this weekend.

It's a permit requested by the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America for an event called "DC United Against Hate."

It's the first permit to be issued for any counter demonstration or the white nationalist rally planned on the 1-year anniversary of the deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

Permits for Kessler and the two other counter demonstrations are still pending. A permit application from Constance Young was withdrawn.

You can find the permit applications and other related documents online in the National Park Service FOIA reading room at nps.gov/aboutus/foia/foia-frd.htm under President's Park.

The permit for Jason Kessler and the two other counter demonstrations are still pending (a third application, from Constance Young, was withdrawn). We will notify and post online as they are issued.

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Five days before Jason Kessler's planned "white civil rights" rally in Washington, D.C., the National Park Service has still not issued a final permit, but it has posted communications with Kessler that reveal details about his plans.

According to Kessler's emails, as many as 300 rally attendees will take the Metro into the city and first gather around 5 p.m. at McPherson Square, where Kessler has requested law enforcement protection.

Thirty minutes later, the group will parade one block over to Lafayette Park, in front of the White House. Kessler writes that the demonstration there will last about two hours before the group retraces the path to McPherson Square by 8 p.m.

The NPS requires permit applicants to submit a list of equipment that will be used during an event. Kessler's request listed two generators, a microphone and two-powered speakers, and up to 300 flags and flagpoles.

Kessler also listed eight speakers including himself and former KKK Imperial Wizard David Duke.

The emails released by the NPS also include two letters from concerned citizens, requesting that the permit not be granted.

One Charlottesville resident, whose name is redacted, describes Charlottesville as "still reeling from the results" of last summer's rally, and says the permit should be denied because the rally "presents a clear and present danger to the public safety, good order or health."

In an email, NPS spokesperson Michael LItterst says in addition to Kessler's pending permit, four counterprotest permits are also under consideration.

"It is not unusual that it takes time to address all of the necessary details so that the permit can be issued for an event this complex, sometimes no earlier than the week of the event," he wrote.

Kessler did not respond to a request for comment.

After his permit request was rejected by the City of Charlottesville, Kessler turned to focus his efforts on plans for D.C.