On Thursday, the Pisgah Inn, which holds a concession on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville, North Carolina, announced that it would defy the National Park Service’s order to close up, and would open doors for business on Friday. On Friday morning, NPS rangers showed up, lights swirling, to close down the business and turn away its customers, supposedly thanks to the government shutdown.
Pisgah Inn receives no federal money, and according to owner Bruce O’Connell, who spoke exclusively to Breitbart News, “All we do is pay the government money. We don’t take anything from them.” It is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which was deemed a thoroughway and therefore left open by the National Parks Service. Nonetheless, earlier this week, the NPS moved to shut it down. Michael Litterst, chief spokesman for the Park Service, said, “We do not believe it is appropriate or feasible to have some parts of the system open while others are closed to the public.”
As O’Connell spoke with Breitbart News on Friday morning, he could see the rangers turning away those hoping to visit the Inn. “They’re out there with lights flashing right now blocking access to our parking lots,” O’Connell said. “They have rangers at all of our gates. They’re turning away our customers. They have rangers out there with yellow vests saying access is restricted….There’s an intimidation factor going on, no doubt about it.”
O’Connell has been receiving support from Republican members of Congress, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who have vowed to stand behind him in his efforts to reopen his business.
When the Park Service rangers showed up to shut him down, O’Connell related that they told him they “hate to do it, but it’s their job.” They handed him a written copy of an order directly from National Parks Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. “Apparently,” said O’Connell, they contacted Washington when I refused to close, and they brought me the order and handed it to me personally just a few minutes ago.”
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).