'Not appropriate' Dance crackdown continues at Jefferson Memorial

You can dance if you want to, but you might want to leave your friends behind– unless you plan on spending a night in jail.

That's what happened in 2008 when a group of D.C. natives staged a silent flash mob at the Jefferson Memorial to commemorate Thomas Jefferson's birthday. What resulted were arrests based on National Park Service regulations.

Last month, the dancing ban was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals in a decision that asserted that dancing can detract from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration that should be found at the monument. 

The decision to uphold the ban prompted another group of activists to take to their feet, this time protesting what they saw as an infringement on their First Amendment rights. A YouTube video of the May 28th event shows police throwing one activist to the ground, images that raise questions of police discretion– if not outright brutality.

"Thomas Jefferson would be rolling over in his grave," says Charlottesville civil libertarian John Whitehead.

Whitehead, who heads the non-profit Rutherford Institute, worries about the precedent that the ruling sets, considering that it offers no specific guidelines for prospective merry-makers.

"The ruling gives too much leeway," says Whitehead. "What constitutes dancing and what constitutes bothering others? The only people being bothered are the police."

The activists planned a second dancing event and touted it as an opportunity for the public to stand up to what they see as injustice. On Saturday, June 4, around 200 people put on their dancing shoes to dance at the Memorial. This time there were no arrests, but National Park Police broke up the groove-fest after twenty minutes.

The Park Service doesn't seem willing to change its stance on the issue anytime soon. In a statement released before the most recent event, the Service– pointing out that ample space exists on the Memorial's grounds to dance without interrupting any other tourists– stated, "We believe it is not appropriate to be dancing in an area that memorializes some of the most famous Americans."

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Sigh. I wonder how life would be if the only thing I had to worry about it was my "right" to dance anywhere I wish and keep up with the 'Housewives of '.

TJ would be rolling over in his grave because of the stupidity of these kids.

You're immature if you think these adults should have been arrested. At least you're using your first amendment rights to mock their usage of their first amendment rights, before yours are taken away. Thomas Jefferson was the greatest defender of liberty, and he would have loved to see those people dancing at the memorial. He would not have been pleased at the disgraceful cops' behavior. He would have thought himself to be back in England serving the tyrannical King George.

Austo right mane, stop wastin people time wit da silly flash mob - dat stuff ol mane. Where John Whitehead when da Hook be deletin my posts??? Im tired of da constant TJ praise in dis town

I'm sure TJ would have been doing the Dougie in front of the memorial to support freedom of speech.

If you watcfh the entire video...


...... what concerns me most is when a cop body slams a boy onto the hard marble floor shortly after the 3 minute mark into the video. This cop needs a little more training on pressure points and how to effectively handle a combative defendant. You could paralyze a young man for life by body slamming them onto a hard marble floor.

@ Gasbag

Oh, but then that cop wouldn't be able to feel like he's starring in his own personal episode of "Cops." Where's the fun in that? ;)

"Bad boys, bad boys...watcha gonna do....watcha gonna do when they come for you, bad boys...."

That actually brings up another good point, boo! I am surprised he did a body slam onto marble knowing that people were videotaping it. In all fairness though, I think the U S Park Police are about the equivalent of the UVA Building and Grounds security force, he probably didn't have the training to deal with a combative defendant.

Should have tazed him after the bodyslam.

I think they would have better off dancing at Monticello.

There are plenty of places to legally get a permit on the National Grounds and the government has a right to make reasonable rules to protect the intent of the "memorial"

I suppose it would also be ok with you if they wanted to burn flags at the tomb of the unknown soldier?

freedom of speech means that you are allowed to express yourself within reasonable paramters. If you believe the parameters are unreasonable hire a lobbyist or a lawyer.

Civil disobedience when lobbying or the courts are a reasonable alternative is not something I believe Mr Jefferson would ave been proud of.

If the problem is that the dancing bothers other visitors, then how about arresting the swarming mass of noisy, "irreverent" tour groups of teenagers that were at the Lincoln Memorial when I was there this Spring? They were far more annoying and distracting then any dancers could have been. They ignored the signs to be quiet, ran around, yelled, got in the way of other tourists trying to take photos, etc. Lots of us were bothered by that. If someone was dancing I doubt I would be nearly as bothered as I was by the bedlam those kids created.

Thomas Jefferson wouldn't have wanted a gaudy memorial built in his honor anyway.

G BEV- at least they were there........why didn't you make a point of talking to their chaparones or tell the kids directly?