Americans cross Obama’s parkway barriers

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Many Americans crossed the barriers that were set this weekend by President Barack Obama’s deputies to block public access to the Potomac River from Virginia’s George Washington Memorial Parkway.

In many quiet acts of civil disobedience, Americans removed car barriers and cut police tape, or walked across barriers after parking on grass verges or in adjacent suburbs.

Once past the federal barriers, they were able to enjoy the bike paths, parkland and overlooks — on what singer Woody Guthrie described as “your land” — during the sunny, 80-degree weekend.

Still, the Obama administration blocked easy access to the river for many Americans, except for boat club members or property owners in the 22308 zip code, where riverside homes sell for at least $1.5 million.

The federal barriers were set along 20 miles of the parkway, starting at a government-built parking lot at President George Washington’s Mount Vernon home and continuing northwards to scenic overlooks in McLean, Va.

“I’ll take my chances,” said one man as he unloaded his two children on a grassy verge beside Roosevelt Island, just across from Washington’s Georgetown district.

But their day in the sun was darkened by a locked gate on the narrow bridge from the parkway to the island that celebrates President Teddy Roosevelt, who is widely regarded as the first presidential advocate for national parks.

Motorists who pushed through the barriers were applauded by other Americans.

Cars driving past barricades on the Washington Memorial Parkway (Neil Munro/TheDC)

OCTOBER 6, 2013 — Cars driving past barricades on the Washington Memorial Parkway (Neil Munro/TheDC)

“They’re right to do that,” a cyclist told The Daily Caller as motorists drove through an opened barrier at a private marina near the Belle Haven Country Club, located just south of Alexandria, Va.

Still, many citizens were stopped by the barriers. Some were blocked because they could not get their boat down the blockaded slips, and others because they were not willing to risk a parking ticket from patrolling police cars.

A family, complete with three kids and a speedboat, found themselves at a scenic overlook 300 feet above the northern end of the river because all the normal slips were blocked. They told TheDC that they would turn back south to search for an unguarded boat ramp.

Motorists ignore a government shutdown sign and park on a scenic overlook on the George Washington Memorial Parkway (Neil Munro/TheDC)

OCTOBER 6, 2013 — Motorists ignore a government shutdown sign and park on a scenic overlook on the George Washington Memorial Parkway (Neil Munro/TheDC)

In several places, Americans gathered together to park in large groups around knocked-aside barriers.

But their respect for the law prevented them from puncturing the water-filled plastic barriers — at least during daylight — that are too heavy to be shoved aside.

GOP governors have also pushed back.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker defied the federal edict, and cleared away barriers hindering Americans.

The state “has clarified areas where the federal procedures are over-reaching,” said an email from Cathy Stepp, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

In contrast, the administration’s progressive officials were unapologetic about their massive resistance to public access of the federal parks and memorials.

“Republicans are willing to vote funding to reopen national parks, museums, memorials, veterans’ payments and the D.C. government.  Why is the White House against it?” one reporter asked White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday.

“Because… It’s a gimmick and it is unsustainable and it’s not serious,” he insisted.

On Friday, Carney was unable to cite any actions taken by Obama to reduce the government’s blockade of parks or websites.

Jonathan Jarvis, the service director at the National Park Service, insisted Thursday he had no choice but to send officers out to close the parks, overlooks and parking lots because he had to furlough 21,000 park service officers.

“To meet the standard of protection for these places…I had to shut them down,” Jarvis declared in a C-Span “Washington Journal” interview.

Law enforcement officers were stationed around parks and monuments to deter Americans from walking on their government’s turf.

“We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can,” a park ranger told The Washington Times. “It’s disgusting.”

Vice President Joe Biden used a Thursday tweet to applauded a park official who patrolled the perimeter of the World War II monument.

“’I’m proud of you,’ VP called to tell the Park Ranger who was chastised by a GOP Rep today at the WWII Memorial,” said the tweet.

The monument was built to applaud the Americans who destroyed Germany’s Nazi regime and Japan’s militaristic empire.

On the southern end of the riverside parkway, several small overlooks remained blocked by plastic fences, and the Civil War-era Fort Hunt Park was padlocked.

At Roosevelt Island, officials replaced at least one set of lightweight barriers that were visible Saturday with heavy, water-filled barriers that fully blocked the parking lot on Sunday.

On Sunday, just north of Ronald Reagan airport, a police officer parked himself in the road to deter more Americans from joining about 40 trucks, family vans and SUVs that were parked on the grass beside Gravelly Point field. The cop tried to chase away additional autos, but none of the autos parked on the verge showed parking tickets.

TheDC, however, did find a parking ticket on a car that was parked behind the ersatz gates of a government-owned lot at Mount Vernon, the home of the nation’s first American president.