Carol Johnson, spokeswoman for the NPS, cited logistical concerns for denying the permit.
“They (the NPS) looked at it (the permit application) and decided it would cause a severe service disruption of traffic both inside and outside the area around the mall,” said Johnson, who then jokingly added “[I] wish the bikers would leave me alone.”
“The size of the event, we can’t manage,” Johnson said. “We couldn’t provide adequate park police services and park police escorts and it would require a lot of road closures so it was denied.”
The NPS did, however, grant a permit to a Muslim organization to hold a “million” man march on the National Mall.
An organization calling themselves “2 Million Bikers to DC” applied for the permit to ride their motorcycles through the nation’s capital to remember those who perished on September 11 and honor the armed forces.
The group said on Facebook they still plan to converge on D.C., despite lacking a permit.
“We don’t need no stinking permit!” the group declared on Facebook. “We have our constitutional rights and we shall ride!”
Belinda Bee, the event organizer, told TheBlaze she was initially told by Sheila Gotha, from the NPS permits division, the group’s permit was denied not for technical reasons, but because their event was slated for a week day “and D.C. residents aren’t going to like that.”
However, in a phone call with TheBlaze Monday, Gotha denied having made those comments or having any knowledge about why their permit was denied.
“I don’t know anything about this, so that’s a lie,” Gotha said. “I don’t have nothing to do with it… I don’t even know what you are talking about.”
An email forwarded to TheBlaze by Bee, however, appears to show that Gotha was one of the NPS officials who participated in a meeting regarding the biker organization’s request for a permit. In fact, the email says she was the “organizer” of the meeting to review the biker group’s request for a permit.
Bee fired back at Gotha on Monday, saying she was the one not telling the truth.
“We had a conference call with Sheila Gotha,” said Bee. “That is a lie. You can quote me on that.”
Johnson said she was unsure if the bikers riding through D.C. would be cited by authorities since they don’t have a permit.
A spokesperson for the National Parks Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze Monday.
Organizers said thousands of bikers are expected to participate in the ride through D.C. on September 11.
by Oliver Darcy