The barricades are still up at the World War II Memorial but the Park Service has left an opening — figuratively and literally — for Americans who want to exercise their First Amendment rights.
While most of the memorial remains behind barricades in response to the federal government shutdown, the ones have been removed by the stone gates commemorating the Pacific theater of the war, and park rangers were telling visitors they could not deny entry to anyone who wanted to exercise his or her rights. The rangers also said they could not interrogate visitors about why they were there, which effectively meant the monument is open to those who are aware of the situation.
A group that had threatened to sue to stop the Park Service from denying entry to the monument said the change is a victory.
“The decision to barricade the WWII Memorial — to keep individuals and veterans out — not only violated the First Amendment rights of Americans, it underscored the absurdity of the Obama administration’s decision to pick winners and losers in this government shutdown,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice.
Earlier this week Mr. Sekulow said he tried to enter the memorial to exercise his First Amendment rights but was escorted out of the site.
Some World War II veterans who had prearranged trips to the memorial had been allowed to visit, but all others were kept outside barricades.
A day earlier the Park Service had allowed a major pro-immigration rally to take place on the otherwise closed National Mall, drawing rebukes both from rally participants and others who said the administration shouldn’t be able to pick and choose who is allowed to exercise their rights.