The struggle to preserve Free Speech in Washington D.C. has entered a new phase. We are writing to you so that you can help in the next step of this critical struggle. If he gets his way, Bush will leave office having shredded fundamental rights to redress grievances and engage in dissent on the National Mall in the nation’s capital. But we can stop this plan.

Because of the participation of you and so many other people around the country, the Bush Administration has been pushed on the defensive. Due to immense public pressure that has been mobilized in the last months the government is now resorting to a smoke and mirror campaign to derail those who are fighting to preserve cherished rights. The people can stop them.

We need you to take action right now:

We are planning on sending the Statement in Defense of Free Speech Rights on the National Mall -- with a list of its thousands of signers -- to the National Park Service and want to further publish the statement. Showing just how many people have already taken action will be an important part of the campaign to defend the National Mall and the First Amendment.

Before we send or publish the statement and signers, we want to confirm with you that we can include you as a signer. We value your privacy. Please take 30 seconds to fill out the form here if you have already signed the statement

Please take a moment and help this Free Speech movement take the next step. If you signed the Statement in Defense of Free Speech on the National Mall before it is crucial that you take the next step. You can also let us know on this same link if you do not want your name included publicly. Initial signers include, Howard Zinn, Cindy Sheehan, Ed Asner, Malik Rahim, Ramsey Clark, Kathy Kelly, Ron Kovic, Dennis Banks and many others.

Here is the situation: More than 15,000 letters flooded the National Park Service (NPS) supporting the centrality of free speech rights on the National Mall. The Bush Administration was shocked by the overwhelming response. They thought that they could essentially privatize the National Mall in Washington DC and quietly eliminate essential Free Speech activities. The plan is to go into effect the last month that Bush is in office in January 2009.

This insidious goal hasn’t changed one bit but they have now quickly shifted their tactics to blunt the massive new movement that has arisen to defend Free Speech on the National Mall.

Bush’s NPS has quickly revamped the web site. The phrase “First Amendment" now appears all over the site. You would think that they are re-organizing the National Mall in order to have more demonstrations, protests and rallies rather than try to banish or limit them. It is all smoke and mirrors. More untruths from the Bush Administration working in partnership with Corporate America.

This is a coordinated effort that we are seeing across the country - the privatization of our public spaces to make them off-limits for us to gather for free speech and assembly. While we have just been victorious in the fight for the Great Lawn of Central Park all eyes are now turning to the National Mall. This is the battle of most significance with repercussions that will be felt coast-to-coast.

Here is how you can help. It will take only a moment of your time but it will make a huge difference.

1) The Partnership for Civil Justice has set up an easy-to-use mechanism that will allow you to send a message directly to the National Park Service about their National Mall Plan. Click this link to send your message

2) Sign the Statement in Defense of Free Speech Rights on the National Mall

3) If you have already signed this statement, let us know if we can publicize you as a signer of this important statement.

4) If you are unsure whether you have already signed, you can sign the statement again, and all duplicate names will be eliminated.


Mara Verheyden-Hillard and Carl Messineo, co-founders of Partnership for Civil Justice

More links :

Background on the NPS initiative to restrict protesting on the National Mall

Washington Post article: The Battle to Remold the Mall

Alternet article: National Mall Redesign Could Seriously Restrict Free Speech