The National Park Service is preparing for one of its busiest days of the year in the nation’s capital next month — a fall day when more than 30 events are expected to coincide, including a pro-Trump rally and a demonstration of Insane Clown Posse fans who have dubbed themselves Juggalos.
Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said the agency is sifting through applications to determine where best to situate each group on Sept. 16. Permits to use federal park land, which includes the Mall, are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Permit applicants for that date include protests, a half-marathon, charity events and weddings. While some applicants have already secured their permits, many are typically finalized and issued in the days before the event.
The two most prominent events of the day will be the Juggalo march and a pro-Trump “free-speech” rally dubbed the Mother of All Rallies. Joining them will also be a left-leaning protest at the White House called the March to Protect American Democracy, which intends to call attention to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to its website.
Jason Webber, an organizer of the Insane Clown Posse rally, said the purpose of his group’s march is to protest the FBI’s 2011 classification of the group as a gang after a series of crimes committed by people who identified as Juggalos. Webber said the group is apolitical, adding that many of their songs decry racism and bigotry.
Webber said the 3,000 or so Juggalos expected to attend the Washington march have no plans to interact with conservative protesters.
“We are all there to get the point across that we are speaking out against this foolish notion that Juggalos are a gang,” he said. “We plan on staying within our march route and we could really not give a damn what the other groups on the National Mall are doing that day. As Patrick Swayze said in ‘Dirty Dancing,’ ‘This is my dance space. This is your dance space.’ ”
The Mother of All Rallies website says its event is aimed at uniting Americans and is open to all political affiliations, although it is working to promote Trump’s “America First” agenda. The website says the group doesn’t want to be divisive and asks participants only to bring American flags to the rally, with no Confederate flags allowed.
“Due to increasing political and social unrest, many believe that core American values, customs and traditions are being sacrificed,” according to the event’s website. “Rally participants will demand protection for traditional American culture while they express their love for the United States and the America First agenda.”
Multiple attempts to reach the event’s organizers were unsuccessful.
The Juggalo rally will start near the Lincoln Memorial, according to Park Service permits issued to the group. The pro-Trump rally will be near the Washington Monument while the left-leaning demonstration will unfold in front of the White House.
Litterst said the Park Service is equipped to deal with the large volume of events and potential clashes, adding that weekends during the fall are typically the Mall’s busy times.
“Dealing with a lot of events is fortunately an area that D.C. has more experience in dealing with than many other areas,” he said.
The U.S. Park Police wouldn’t discuss its security plan for the day, but said the agency is prepared to provide security while protecting First Amendment activities on federal property.
“We consistently analyze information to detect and deter threats to public safety,” said Anna Rose, a spokeswoman for the police agency. “The USPP makes no distinction regarding a group’s message or political standpoint. Our intent is to protect our treasured icons and the people who visit them.”
Protesters said they hoped to make the best of a potentially crowded Mall and respect all of the groups’ space.
“We will definitely try to walk around the weddings,” Webber said, “and Juggalos make excellent wedding guests.”