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Our FOIA explained: Questions swirl around March 24 National Mall permit for talent show

There might be nothing to it, but when I got my first look at the heavily redacted permit application for a “talent show” by an unidentified educational institution that had led the National Park Service to deny the request by the organizers of March for Our Lives for use of the National Mall, several anomalies jumped out.

For example, why refuse to release the name of the educational institution and the name of the project?  (Note that on the March’s own application, as released under FOIA, the same information as not redacted.) Indeed, the redaction invoked Exemption Six of the FOIA, which protects only the privacy of individuals.

Next, the rally permit was sought for March 24, while the date sought for the “talent show” was March 25. March 24, the day before, was handwritten into the margins as a “rain date.” A rain date BEFORE the preferred date?  And the talent show application not only was undated but did not bear a date-received stamp, unlike the rally permit. The National Park Service’s ground for denying the location for the rally was “first-come first served.”

Thus our FOIA request. It might well turn out that there is nothing untoward happening here, but it is worth inquiring further.