U.S. Park Police arrested five people on Saturday at the Jefferson Memorial. Their offense? Dancing.
The dancers were protesting an appeals court ruling handed down last week that the national monuments are places for reflection and contemplation -- and that dancing distracted from such an experience.
In 2008, Mary Brooke Oberwetter and a group of friends went to the Jefferson to commemorate the president's 265th birthday by dancing silently, while listening to music on headphones. Park Police ordered the revelers to disperse and arrested them when they did not.
Oberwetter sued on free speech grounds, but the appeals court ruled last week that her conduct was indeed prohibited "because it stands out as a type of performance, creating its own center of attention and distracting from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration" that Park Service regulations are designed to preserve.
Whereas Oberwetter and her friends visited the Jefferson near midnight, Saturday's protest was staged during the day, on Memorial Day weekend, in order to draw maximum attention. The organizers issued a public call for photographers and videographers to document the event, and the inevitable arrests (watch below).
According to Dcist, the dancers were charged with demonstrating without a permit and released.