Park officials call fees charged to protest abortion rights a misunderstanding – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather forecast
INDIANPOLIS (WISH) — Noah Thomas, an Indiana University junior at Purdue University in Indianapolis, knows the drill when it comes to organizing protests, having organized several protests for the right abortion in the last two months.
“Leave the park or, publicly wherever it is, you let them know, just out of courtesy, hey we’re having a protest here, it’s going to be peaceful. Just wanted to let you know, in case anything happened, we didn’t want to catch you off guard,” Thomas said of typical protocol for organizing a protest.
When Thomas contacted White River State Park to organize a protest at the military park, he said the situation was different.
“It’s our first amendment, isn’t it? If we’re on this sidewalk? And she said, yes, but it’s kind of a gray area because we need money to maintain the park and it feels like an organized event. And once I mentioned there might be politicians there, she said, oh yeah, it’s definitely an organized event and we’re going to have to charge you $1,500 to rent a corner of the park” , said Thomas.
Thomas says he understands the need to charge for park maintenance, but he argues that a protest is not the same as other events.
“If it was a birthday party or some kind of concert, you know that’s understandable, but it’s a protest. It’s our first amendment as citizens of the United States. It’s a right given to us, so it’s a bit different, and that was very disappointing,” Thomas said.
We contacted the outdoor special events manager at White River State Park who says they rent green spaces for events, but that was a misunderstanding and the problem was resolved. Thomas doesn’t feel like it was just a misunderstanding.
“She does her job, and I respect that, everyone has to have a job in life. Maybe it was a complete misunderstanding. I don’t think it was. She knew it was a protest. I’ve mentioned it several times,” Thomas said.
Thomas says the protest will take place at the military park on August 26 at 4 p.m.