Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) challenged the Director of the National Park Service Wednesday, asking him why it took him over 100 days in 2011 to enforce federal regulations with Occupy Wall Street group encampments in McPherson Square on the National Mall but, while veterans’ memorials were closed on the first day of the government shutdown.
Director Jonathan Jarvis could not cite even one federal regulation requiring him to erect barricades to close down the veterans’ memorials. Yet, as Gowdy reminded him, he told a congressional committee in 2011 that he had a great deal of discretion in how and when to enforce the law when it came to the Occupy protesters, and that he was working with the protesters to “gain compliance.”
Right Scoop posted videos of the exchanges:
Gowdy previously sent a letter to Jarvis, calling upon his agency to provide a legal justification for closing the World War II Memorial to veterans in light of the government shut down, yet still allowing an immigration rally on the National Mall.
“I am concerned about recent reports of the National Park Service’s (NPS) selective enforcement of policy and regulations in the name of the First Amendment,” Gowdy wrote. “Reminiscent of last year’s lack of enforcement of camping in McPherson Square, the NPS justified special accommodations for a rally on the National Mall attended by Democratic Members of Congress based on First Amendment interpretations.”
“However, World War II veterans faced government barriers when attempting to visit a memorial commemorating their service,” Gowdy wrote.
Gowdy said he was most troubled by the fact that NPS has been acting as an “arbiter of what is constitutionally permissible speech rather than applying a content neutral policy and regulations equally and fairly to everyone.”