“It does seem a little ironic that the ‘Land of the Free’ cannot be so free at times.”
That is the reaction from 25 year old Phillip Howell who delivered Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What sparked that reaction is something I think many people will find absurd.
Howell stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial dressed up as Lincoln and began to recite Abe’s famous speech. However, a park officer was not going to have any of that crazy talk going on so he quickly addressed the issue. The Daily Caller has more:
“He called me Abe, and then I turned around and he said, ‘Do you have a permit?’ I said ‘no’ and he said, ‘well you can’t do that here then,’” Howell told The Daily Caller. “Then I said, ‘I’m just giving the Gettysburg Address, come on, it’s President’s Day.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care what you’re giving, You’re not allowed to do that here. I don’t care what speech or what agenda you want to give.’”
Confused as to why it is actually illegal to read the words carved into the memorial’s wall in a loud voice, but not wanting to cause any trouble, the 6-foot-4 Howell, who sports a thick beard and looks just like Honest Abe in a top hat and suit, moved to the bottom of the steps and delivered the rest of the speech to a cheering crowd.
But his troubles didn’t end there.
Some friends suggested that Howell could make some money off his talent, so they passed around a basket and tourists dropped in a few dollars. That’s when the officer walked down the steps and asked the duo if they had a license for street vending.
“I could arrest you,” Howell recalled the officer saying.
They told the officer they didn’t know it was illegal and would be on their way. The officer refused, detained them at the base of the memorial, and wrote Howell and his friend holding the basket $100 in tickets.
The DC states that Park Police responded to the incident by saying that they enforce the permit policy to make sure that all groups have an opportunity to use the facility and space for events. A group apparently includes “demonstrations by one person.”
I can understand the legitimacy for a popular memorial such as the Lincoln Memorial requiring a permit for groups to use the space, but one person is hardly a group. Essentially Howell reprimanded for talking. Has that been deemed inappropriate by Park Police? Apparently so.
Flashback 1: Park Police confront students singing the National Anthem at the Lincoln Memorial. They did it anyway!
Flashback 2: A permit is required in Washington, D.C. for tour guides to talk. Violators face up to 90 days in jail!