The Park Police’s Footloose PR Problem

June 4, 2011

This photograph is of the columns that surroun...

"Don't dance here" says the U.S. Park Police. Image via Wikipedia

There’s a dance party going on at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. today. Over 3,000 people RSVPed on Facebook saying they would show up and start silently dancing.

The flashmob is to protest the U.S. Park Police’s ban on dancing inside the memorial.

That’s right, the U.S. Park Police has a ban on dancing — they consider it a form of protest requiring a public permit. In 2008 on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, Brooke Oberwetter, a Washington, D.C. resident, was arrested for dancing at the Jefferson Memorial.

Ms. Oberwetter sued the Park Police in federal court and recently lost her bid to overturn the ban.

In reaction to the court’s decision,  a smaller group of dancing protesters was arrested last week at the Jefferson Memorial. The flashmob planned for today is larger than it probably would have been because of the Park Police’s treatment of the dancing protesters — throwing a protester onto the Memorial’s hard marble floor while cameras were filming was probably not a good idea.

Thus the Park Police’s Footloose PR problem.

If you’re the public affairs office for the Park Police, what can you possible say to the media that can turn around public perception?

This news release is a start, but the visuals from last weekend still stick in the public’s mind.

One would hope that the Park Police’s management trained officers to manage this situation differently this time. But given this conversation between the Park Police and one of the organizers of today’s dance party, I’m guessing that’s not the case.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: