The race is on! Who’s going to snag a permit for the next MLK anniversary rally?

Chris Moody Contributor
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A tip for anyone who wants to plan a Lincoln Memorial rally on the next anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech: The permit process is now open.

Fox News personality Glenn Beck snagged the National Park Service permit this year for his August 28 “Restoring Honor” rally in front of the memorial, a move that caused a ruckus among black leaders who said Beck’s rally would promote “fear and division” and “tarnish the legacy” of the late civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

But because the National Park Service accepts rally permit applications on a first-come, first-serve basis, there was nothing critics could do but hold their own demonstrations elsewhere in the city. Washington D.C. Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said at the time that if Beck “has any respect for the unity across racial lines that August 28 represented, he would not hold what looks to be an all-white march that cannot possibly appeal across racial lines because of how he has modeled himself on radio and television.”

Well, he did it anyway, and could very well do it again next year.

The National Park Service accepts applications for rally permits as far as one year in advance of the scheduled event. As of midnight on August 29, the permit for a 2011 rally  is officially up for grabs. According to a spokesman for the National Park Service, no group has yet scheduled to hold an event on the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2011.

“No application has been approved as of right now,” Park Service spokesman Terry Adams told The Daily Caller Tuesday.

The Park Service requires that groups planning large rallies, meetings or protests on the National Mall apply for a permit to ensure that there is adequate security, restroom facilities and transportation options to safely accommodate anticipated crowds. Once the Park Service approves an application for a permit, the location — in this case the Lincoln Memorial — is considered reserved and other groups that want to organize an event requiring a lot of logistical prep-work are out of luck.

The four-page application can take weeks to approve once it is submitted, Adams said.

As for whether organizations who made a fuss about the Glenn Beck rally have begun the long application process, they haven’t said. Spokesmen from Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition did not immediately return requests for comment.

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