Park Service drops new rules for protests in Washington

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Park Service has withdrawn a proposal that critics complained was designed to stifle protests near the White House and on the National Mall.

The park service says in a statement that it received more than 140,000 comments on its proposed changes, which included opening the door to charging protest organizers for such services as erecting and taking down barricades, trash removal and repairing harm to the grounds where the protest occurred.

Each year, the agency issues about 750 permits for “First Amendment activities.” Critics said that charging the organizers of those events would have made it harder for people to exercise their constitutional rights.

The proposed rule also would have restricted how much of the sidewalk outside the White House is accessible to protesters.

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