City Desk

Legal Observers To Monitor Inaugural Activities

Just a few minutes ago, I talked with Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice, about the inauguration, security, and, and the Secret Service. She says that trained legal observers will be out and about for Tuesday's big events just in case the police start forgetting about your civil liberties. We advised you to seek them out if you have a problem on Tuesday.

"They'll be out around the route," Verheyden-Hilliard says of the legal observers. "They'll be out there monitoring the police action and the Secret Service action." She couldn't say how many observers will be volunteering for the inauguration detail. The plans are still be worked out.

But she's already noticed a little something about the inauguration windup. It isn't all hope. "I think it's very distressing that the Secret Service is making Washington so inhospitable for people." By people she means us and the out-of-towners who are coming because the event means so much to them. Instead, they get road closures, and bridge closings, and fortified security zones. We get gridlock.

"At the same time, the Secret Service seems to be bending over backwards to help the corporate law firms and lobbyists that have all the office buildings that line Pennsylvania Avenue to make sure their caterers and Hors d'œuvres get in," the lawyer notes.


I asked her about the D.C. Police. The department has a bad history handling massive crowds: "It's the usual situation when they have huge numbers of police working many hours a day, that doesn't always go that well."

Verheyden-Hilliard knows what she's talking about. She also has been battling the checkpoint issue.

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  • Sherman Oaks

    Harrisburg, PA? Ridiculous. Who the hell would commute to the inauguration from there?

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