Statement- First Amendment Activity Permitted at Gettysburg National Military Park
Contact: Katie Lawhon, (717) 334-1124, ext. 3121
An organization known the Confederate White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, under the coordination of Richard Preston, Baltimore, MD, has applied for and received a special use permit to exercise their first amendment rights at Gettysburg National Military Park (NMP) on October 5, 2013, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Activities will take place on the lawn area north of Meade’s Headquarters along Taneytown Road.
The group requested the permit under the first amendment of the United States Constitution which grants all citizens the rights to freedom of speech. As custodians of land owned by the American people, the National Park Service has a responsibility to make that land available for exercising those rights. The Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR 2.51), the Director’s Orders on Special Park Use and the Management Policies of the National Park Service all provide clear guidance on First Amendment activities in the parks.
The National Park Service mission in preserving and protecting the historic resources at Gettysburg includes making them available to all Americans, even those whose views are contrary to the majority of the American public.
National parks host hundreds of first amendment activities each year, the majority of which take place in our nation’s capital. Some, like Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, reflect the prevailing mood of the American people, while others deliver a more controversial message whose validity is ultimately judged by the American people. The one constant of all of these assemblies is the professionalism of National Park Service and its staff in administering these activities.
Gettysburg NMP staff will be working to ensure that park resources and visitors will not be adversely affected by this event. Additional law enforcement agencies will assist the park to make certain that demonstrators, visitors, and staff experience a safe atmosphere on the day of the event
Did You Know?
The tiny home of widow Lydia Leister was used by Union General George G. Meade for his headquarters during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.