We strongly deplore the “Unite the Right” rally planned for the National Mall on Aug. 12. The organizers are hate-mongers peddling a disgraceful agenda of anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia.
While the National Park Service has given preliminary approval for the gathering, it has not yet granted the organizers a permit. We respect the First Amendment implications of the Park Service’s dilemma. Most forms of hate speech are constitutionally protected. But there are grave security considerations that must be taken into account when groups like this incite hatred and mob violence.
At the Charlottesville rally that this gathering is intended to commemorate, protester Heather Heyer died when a neo-Nazi drove his car into her. Violent clashes took place in the streets of Charlottesville that day, resulting in more than 30 injuries. More recently, Jason Kessler, the organizer of the upcoming rally, was banned from the University of Virginia campus after he threatened students.
For these reasons, we are concerned about the very real threat of violence erupting on the Mall should the rally occur. We therefore call on the Park Service to withhold a permit. But if the rally does take place, the Park Service must adopt a serious and thorough security plan so that the events of Charlottesville one year ago are not repeated in the nation’s capital. The public must be protected.
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