Three longtime protesters in Lafayette Square lost the first round yesterday in their attempt to force the U.S. Park Police to stop what they contend is harassment of demonstrators and homeless people who frequent the park.
U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey denied the protesters' request for a temporary restraining order, saying they had not shown that their First Amendment rights were being violated by officers who enforce regulations governing park access.
Richey also said he could not ignore security concerns of the White House. "The court cannot avoid taking notice of the fact that during the last several weeks ... the security of the president of the United States has been threatened," the judge said. "Therefore, the public interest requires that the Park Service be able to continue to equitably enforce its regulations."
The judge scheduled a hearing for Jan. 12 on the next round of arguments, on a separate request for a preliminary injunction and the merits of the case.