The Kremlin’s new media project, USA Really, claimed the police in Washington, DC “banned” its rally scheduled to take place in front of the White House on June 14. The announcement for the rally, posted by USA Really in April, displayed a picture of the White House surrounded by American flags, along with an announcement that “America will wake up on June 14th!” It also said that the rally was planned to start at 2 p.m. The organizers, however, did not provide information about specifically where the rally was to take place or any other details.
A Polygraph.info reporter was present on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House at 2 p.m. on June 14. However, there were no signs of any rally or a single person carrying any banners or handouts referring to USA Really or to their slogan “Wake Up, America!”
The same day, USA Really posted an item on its website claiming its rally had been banned by the authorities in the U.S. capital. According to the Russian-language post, the group applied to the Metropolitan Police Department for a permit.
Polygraph.info research found that there are two separate agencies authorized to issuing permits for hosting events in the area surrounding the White House: the Metropolitan Police (only in certain areas around the WH), and the National Park Service.
On their websites, both agencies post application forms for permits for public gatherings, along with detailed guidance.
The National Park Service application says that no permit is required for rallies of 25 people or less. In addition, the service’s $120 application processing fee for public gatherings is waived for “First Amendment activities.” The form for the White House area must be submitted at least 10 days prior the planned time of the event.
Not all the public events near the White House require a permit from the Metropolitan Police, according to the National Park Service guidance, which states: “Applications are also reviewed by the United States Park Police to determine if Park Police officers are required to be onsite for proposed event.”
If the event requires the service of the U.S. Park Police, then the applicant will be contacted directly by the Park Police to coordinate the appropriate arrangements. “Payment for U.S. Park Police services must be made seven (7) days in advance of your event,” the guidance says.
Public gatherings are a constitutional right of the American people granted under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Rejecting a permit application requires a special security protocol and procedures, which leave traceable evidence that USA Really has not provided or mentioned.
The application process with the National Park Service and the Metropolitan Police leaves a trail of documents – hard copies of the applications; receipts for processing fees, if any; and the original letter of rejection, if the application is turned down.
USA Really has not presented any of these documents to prove its claim that the Washington, DC authorities banned its planned rally in front of the White House. Instead, it is issued a statement that this fact-check reveals has no factual basis, but is in line with disinformation techniques generally employed by the Russian state media.
Created after Facebook banned its parent entity, the “Federal News Agency” (Riafan), in April, USA Really said its goal is to “wake up Americans.”
Riafan is the St. Petersburg branch of Rossiya Segodnya, the Russian state media conglomerate. It is also reportedly affiliated with St. Petersburg’s Internet Research Agency, better known as the “troll factory.”