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We’re not gonna take it! Americans use 1st Amendment to storm shutdown barriers
Question of the Day
Taking their lead from the veterans who first pushed through the barricades to visit the World War II Memorial, Americans nationwide are defying the federal government shutdown, tossing aside traffic cones and toppling wooden fences to get to national parks and other federal lands that the administration has deemed out of bounds.
As the shutdown hits the middle of its second week, civil disobedience has become a sensation. Some proudly post online photos of themselves overcoming the government’s obstacles, and others use more subtle ways to make their point.
In Arizona, one road-stop inn is quietly giving visitors directions on how to use Forest Service roads to get a glimpse of the Grand Canyon, a national park that has been shut down.
In Washington, D.C., a South Carolina man said he has spent the past week picking up trash around the shuttered Lincoln Memorial, taking the place of National Park Service employees who have been furloughed.
In Massachusetts, Minuteman National Park is closed, but that hasn’t stopped the leaf-peepers from crossing the barricades to watch as autumn blooms in the Northeast.
“Thoreau would be proud,” wrote E.M. Swift, a former Sports Illustrated writer who lives in Carlisle, Mass., and who described the conscientious objectors as “uniformly well-dressed, many white-haired, seemingly law-abiding citizens.”
“They are willfully, determinately, civilly disobeying the law of the land,” Mr. Swift wrote in an essay for Boston’s National Public Radio station, adding that authorities were turning a blind eye to illegally parked cars and folks on the walking trails.
Not so elsewhere.
The Associated Press reported that nearly two dozen people have been cited for entering Grand Canyon National Park during the shutdown.
The Jacob Lake Inn, at a key crossroads above the north rim of the Grand Canyon, is losing business because of the shutdown. Matt Rich, one of the family owners, said this is the peak month and the make-or-break season, but 25 of the inn’s 62 rooms were empty Tuesday.
He said the inn isn’t trying to run afoul of the rules, but if visitors ask, they will receive directions to Forest Service roads that provide glimpses of the canyon without entering the park.
“We have people that are outraged — people from other countries who have spent considerable time and money to get here, you know, the Grand Canyon is one of the wonders of the world. So when we make them aware there are other views they can see from Forest Service land, they come back and hug us because we saved their vacation,” Mr. Rich said.
He said one newlywed couple had planned to make their honeymoon trip a journey through all of the national parks in Utah and the Grand Canyon. They have been reduced to making the trip and taking photos in front of the “closed” signs posted at each park.
In the Washington region, Park Police have barricaded off most of the parking areas along the George Washington Parkway — though the bicycle trail remains open.
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About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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