Over 30 Republican members of Congress are putting pressure on the Biden Administration to override the Pentagon’s decision to deny a veteran’s group from having their annual Memorial Day, “Rolling to Remember” rally. The rally honors service members who are still missing in action and service members who have died by suicide.
“I would have hoped that President Biden would have more respect for a Memorial Day tradition, which raises awareness to the 82,000 service members who are still missing in actions and that 22 veterans die by suicide each day. That is why today, I along with 33 of my House colleagues are urging President Biden to reverse his administration’s decision and grant Rolling to Remember their permit request to use the Pentagon’s parking lot. Moreover, nine state, local and federal agencies have already approved AMVETS’ permit for this year … your Administration is the only remaining barrier to ensuring this Memorial Day tradition goes as planned. Therefore, we urge you to overturn the decision by the Department of Defense and grant a permit to AMVETS for use of the Pentagon parking lot. Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter that is deeply personal to myself and many veterans across this country.”” – Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL)
The permit for the rally was originally approved by the Pentagon on March 11, but that decision was later reversed. The Pentagon claimed that the decision to deny the permit was due to COVID-19 concerns.
“If COVID-19 conditions permit, the department would gladly consider supporting a future event request from AMVETS, potentially as soon as this Labor Day weekend. The department looks forward to supporting future events with AMVETS,” – Pentagon Statement
However Black Lives Matter has had no issue getting a permit in Washington D.C. to hold rallies and protests throughout the pandemic.
“If you look at the facts that BLM can get a riot permit in Washington, D.C., with COVID going on at the exact same time, how do you not allow veterans into the parking lot, the 70-acre parking lot of the Pentagon in this 20-year plus tradition? Total politics in my opinion,” Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL)
The group still plans to hold their event regardless of what the Pentagon decides.
We will have a demonstration on May 30 in Washington, D.C. We’re not going to be able to stage where this demonstration has staged for decades, but we will have a central staging area in the District. It will be safe, it will be coordinated, and we have a lot of protocols in place to make sure that the spread of COVID doesn’t happen there. And we are working with every other agency. There are a lot of agencies that are responsible for that region. We’re working with all of those. The Pentagon is the only one that wouldn’t work with us.” – Joe Chenelly, AMVETS’ national executive director