The organizers secured their permit before Friday's announcement by Gov. Wolf that Crawford and a couple dozen other counties will move from yellow to green on May 29.
They plan to proceed anyway.
"Should never have been closed in the first place." said organizer Patrick McHenry, a Vietnam War veteran, former State Police captain and county coroner. He tried to get Diamond Park for the rally. The time of his event butted up against the Memorial Day committee's event in the park which had already been reserved until noon through a prior granted permit with the city.
Stating concerns the rally could interfere with the end of that solemn event as well as safety issues surrounding the Diamond's current road resurfacing project, McHenry's permit request was denied. City manager Andrew Walker offered a suggestion that the "We the People" committee move their rally to Bicentennial Park. McHenry agreed and announced on social media the "the city relented and gave us a permit for Bicentennial Park."
So the rally is on for Monday at noon.
McHenry said holding the rally on Memorial Day is appropriate. "Members of our military gave their lives in support of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and our freedom. What our government is doing today diminishes their sacrifices," he said. He estimated around 200 will attend when he first asked for a permit.
Walker said he respects the importance of free speech and pointed to the roadwork and safety concerns as the deciding factor for the original permit denial. The use of Bicentennial Park was approved despite concerns the crowd might be larger than the recommended 25 person limit. Rules about crowd size during the governor's yellow phase do not apply to rallies when it's a protest with First Amendment implications, according to documentation provided by Walker. He acknowledges individuals right to protest is paramount and he cannot prohibit peaceful free speech nor does he have desire to do so.
The "We the People" rally starts at noon in Bicentennial Park.