National Mall to host dozens of protests during inauguration, from marijuana to motorcycles

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The weather forecast for Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration might miss one cloud: DCMJ, a group promoting marijuana legalization, plans to distribute joints to attendees just prior to the inauguration. Recipients are to bring them onto the National Mall and at 4 minutes and 20 seconds into the ceremony—the number 420 has long been associated with marijuana—light them.

DCMJ will have plenty of company; the National Park Service has received at least 30 requests for permits from groups wanting to protest at the inauguration, spokesman Mike Litterst told Reuters. Bikers for Trump and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are both on the list. The Exodus Foundation, founded by a self-described prison abolitionist, shows up alongside a lone Quaker planning a fasting vigil. DisruptJ20, a group promising “widespread civil resistance” and “no peaceful transition,” states it has also filed paperwork for a permit—presumably for its less anarchy-minded followers.

The largest planned demonstration, aiming for 200,000 attendees, is the Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for Jan. 21. Some on the left criticize the march for its lack of focus. Its mission statement says “women’s rights are human rights,” and both Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America are sponsors, but its vague goal is to “support the advocacy and resistance movements that reflect our multiple and intersecting identities.”

One protest’s participants can skip Washington, D.C., traffic headaches and security checks: The “Love-a-thon” is a Facebook Live broadcast scheduled to coincide with the inauguration. Jane Fonda, Tim Robbins, Judd Apatow, and other Hollywood names will headline the fundraiser in an effort to garner $500,000 for the ACLU of Southern California, Planned Parenthood, and Earthjustice.

Amid celebrations and protests, legal questions abound: The District of Columbia legalized small quantities of marijuana in 2015, but the DCMJ protest takes place on federal land, which isn’t covered by the change. The park police normally enforce laws at the National Mall, but the Secret Service is in charge for the inauguration. Bag checks will be mandatory, but police agencies WORLD contacted did not respond to inquiries about how they would handle marijuana they find. DCMJ’s organizers point out that their civil disobedience risks arrest, but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser seems less concerned: “It wouldn’t be our first priority.”

— by Charles Horton

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