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March on DC: Buses without permits turned back, fined at D.C. border

co-bus.jpg“Has Washington closed its doors to the public?”

A new and little advertised law implemented a month ago was apparently designed to ensure no illegal border crossings into the D.C. city limits by undocumented buses. The immigration of protesters and other mass arrivals of voices of dissent who arrive by motorcoach are being turned back the ‘border’ by vigilant police, park police and homeland security personnel.

Many of the incoming activists are expected to participate in a march to the Capitol and a “die-in” at the Peace monument under shades of the 60s, when tens of thousands of Vietnam protesters gathered in the shadows of the Washington Monument to voice their dissent with the war policies of that era.

end-the-war.jpgOn September 15, thousands of Iraq war protesters and peace activists will mobilize in Washington for what is being describe as “not just another war protest” but a massive rally and a week of direct action that includes a “die in,” lobbying, and “truth in recruiting” workshops.

To kick off the week of action, after the rally the participants will march from the White House to the Capitol, and go straight into a mass civil-disobedience die-in around the Peace Monument. The die-in will be led by an Honor Guard of Iraq Veterans Against the War who will simulate a 21-Gun Salute before taps is played to initiate the die-in.

co-kokesh.jpg“We are asking as many members of VFP as possible to sign up to wear cammies and die-in around us to symbolize the American cost of this war. We will be encircled by bolts of red cloth to symbolize the Iraqi deaths and invite anyone else from the rally to participate in the die-in.” — Adam Kokesh, Veterans for Peace

The question of “Washington closing its doors” to the public via this law appeared in Daily Kos (online) on Friday as a stream of anti-war activists and protesters began to arrive in Washington D.C. for a week of protests.

In an under-publicized action, Washington D.C. officials in August approved and implemented a permitting process for all charter buses coming into the capitol for any reason, assessing a $50 fee for ever bus entering the city.

Padykraska’s blog had this warning for activists and protesters traveling to the capital this week:

“…for any of you coming into Washington for the demonstrations this weekend. Well, at least the ones on buses. You’re not welcome, that is, unless they know you’re coming.”

Washington D.C. apparently passed an ordinance that took effect on the first of August that requires all buses to have a permit to enter the district.

“All buses that are coming into the district for the demonstrations are either being turned away or fined $500.” — Daily Kos/paddykraska

There is now a fee of $50 for a 6 day permit for every motorcoach that enters the city. This new law stressed thousands of protesters arriving on buses who were apparently not aware or advised of the permitting process, despite the fact that a coalition of the National Transportation Association, the American Bus Association and the United Motorcoach association have quietly filed a lawsuit in Superior Court to stop the city from collecting the $50 permit fee (a.k.a. Tax) , which for many transit and tour companies could amount to $2,200 per year per bus.

“The effects of the new motorcoach permit fee will be felt throughout the region’s tourist-centered services. And the money lost to D.C. tourism will never be fully quantified, because we’ll never know who decided not to visit D.C. because of this regressive tax.” — Lisa Simon, NTA president

Permits must be acquired ahead of time and may not be purchased upon arrival in the city. Motorcoach trip permits can ordered two ways:

  1. Online Trip Permitting by credit card only.
  2. Print and fax or E-mail processing (complete the Trip Permit Application and fax or mail it with the $50 fee (check or money order) to DC Treasurer to the DMV address on the application.

It was not clear if the permitting must be secured by the motorcoach company or the group contracting to charter the bus.

All requests, according to these sites, will be processed within 24-48 hours upon receipt of payment and application. But if you do not have a permit in advance, it may be a long walk into Washington, and/or a $500 fine per bus. For people already en route to D.C., it’s too late to get a permit, and $500 fines are being imposed.


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