- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Residents have played cat-and-mouse with the police, toppling the barricades and using the pull-offs, only to see the police put the fences back up.

Robert Simpson, who was on the trail near Alexandria on Wednesday, said he goes out about four times a week and hasn’t seen any drop in the number of people going for runs.

Still, he said he is “really disgusted” with the shutdown and blames House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

“I would tell Boehner to lead the party rather than be subservient to the tea party,” he said.

World War II Memorial

In downtown Washington, where the civil disobedience began with veterans bursting through barricades to get to the World War II Memorial, the Park Service has relented to some extent.

Although barricades still surround most of the site, there is an opening — figuratively and literally — that visitors can use to gain access through the gate commemorating the Pacific theater.

Rangers told visitors Wednesday that they could not deny entry to anyone who wanted to exercise First Amendment rights, and could not interrogate visitors, which effectively means the monument is open to those aware of the loophole.

“The First Amendment trumps all,” a Park Service ranger told visitors.

The exemption applies to monuments on the Mall, though visitors are not allowed inside the chambers of the Lincoln or Jefferson memorials because congregating there to exercise First Amendment rights is prohibited under Park Service regulations.

Some visitors Wednesday didn’t realize the monument was essentially open.

One woman jumped the front fence to get inside just around the corner from the area where barricades had been opened. Renee Younk, visiting from Wisconsin on a work trip, said she probably wouldn’t have gone into the monument based on the sign that read, “Due to the Federal government shutdown, this National Park Service area is closed, except for 1st Amendment activities.”

Donna Chapman, another out-of-town visitor, said she felt like she was exercising her First Amendment right just by visiting the memorial.

“I don’t think they should have gates up at all. It’s open air,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

But the service had to relent Tuesday after it allowed a major pro-immigration rally on the otherwise closed Mall, drawing rebukes from rally participants and from others who said the administration shouldn’t be able to choose who is and who is not allowed to exercise rights.

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