ANSWER Coalition Still Fighting Parade Bleachers
An anti-war group, whose 2005 lawsuit is freeing up a majority of the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue so that more people can see Barack Obama’s inaugural parade, won’t be satisfied until it gets the entire street.
ANSWER argues that the park service effectively privatizes a public street by giving portions to the Presidential Inaugural Committee for ticketed bleacher seats, often purchased by corporations and big campaign donors.
Judge Paul L. Friedman ruled in ANSWER’s favor earlier this year with a permanent injunction, but he left the question of how many bleacher seats were too many up to the park service. The park service’s response was to reduce the number of reserved seats from about 20,000 in 2005, to 8,790, according to new regulations released today.
But ANSWER’s lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, of the Partnership for Civil Justice, said that response is “contemptuous.” In other words, we’ll see you in court. Again.
The bleachers are in prime spots, like the White House sidewalk, and still blocking the view of spectators, Verheyden-Hilliard said. ANSWER is still pleased that the park service agreed to reduce the number of bleachers, but she added: “We believe there’s still an unfinished battle here.”
Unfortunately for spectators, the issue probably will not be resolved until next year, Verheyden-Hilliard said.
By Nikita Stewart
David A Nakamura
November 17, 2008; 3:56 PM ET
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