WASHINGTON – Iowa State students attending the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration here will be met with more than just high gas prices,long car rides and bad weather – they will be greeted by the highest security measures ever taken for a president's swearing in.
According to a Secret Service press release,protesters and bystanders must undergo security screening before entering any event associated with the inauguration. Even those attending the inaugural parade will go through security checkpoints.
In addition,supports for signs,coolers,glass containers, bags larger than 8 inches by 6 inches by 4 inches and anything else considered a weapon will be banned.
Signs,protest or not,also have to comply with restrictions. Signs must be made of cardboard,poster board or cloth and not be bigger than 3 feet by 20 feet and one-quarter inch thick,according to the release.
Demonstrators must observe guidelines set forth by the city's Metropolitan Police,the United States Park Police,the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security. Demonstrators have been allotted several spaces to gather but must obtain a permit ahead of time.
Sgt. Scott Fear,U.S. Park Police spokesman,said groups that apply for permits will receive them as long as they agree to follow conditions that can be unique for each permit.
“Depends on where you want to be and what kind of equipment you have,” he said. “Each permit is different,but they all have some of the same rules,like no civil disobedience.”
The Park Police will have the job of patrolling the grassy areas of the inaugural events,enforcing the guidelines and making sure groups of 25 or more have permits. Fear said the department's job is nothing new and safety is not the only thing the police hope to protect.
“We feel it is just as important to protect the rights of the demonstrators or protesters,” he said.
Five groups had been given permits as of Wednesday,with the largest group,ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) Coalition,claiming 10,000 participants.
Some protests don't require permits. Emilie Karrick,spokeswoman for the protest group Turn Your Back on Bush,said the group won't be using chants or signs to make its viewpoint known.
“We are going to stand at a designated spot along the parade route and turn our backs as the president goes by,” she said.
Some Iowa Staters confirm they will attend the inauguration. Among them will be Matt Lemons,senior in philosophy and member of the ISU College Democrats. He may join one of the protests.
Lemons said he wants to see as many of the events as possible,and doesn't mind the heightened security.
“I understand there are practical reasons,” he said. “But it would bother me if some groups got better access than others,for political reasons and not practical purposes,if that were to happen.”