NEW YORK – The New York City Parks Department denied an appeal Monday from an anti-war group seeking to stage a massive demonstration in Central Park ahead of the Republican National Convention (search).
The Parks Department had previously denied the application from United for Peace and Justice (search) for an Aug. 29 rally expected to draw 250,000, saying such a crowd was too large and would damage the Great Lawn.
In denying the appeal late Monday, the agency said the group had not sufficiently answered those concerns.
"Since its restoration, the Great Lawn and surrounding areas cannot accommodate an event for a quarter of a million people," said Parks spokeswoman Megan Sheekey in a statement. "We again encourage the organizers to meet with the NYPD to discuss an alternative location."
A lawyer representing the group said he is concerned about the city's "apparent unwillingness to allow protests to go forward."
"In the context of this particular event the city seems to be saying that Central Park is now off limits to political rallies," said Chris Dunn, associate legal director at the New York Civil Liberties (search) Union.
The group had also sought permission to march up Eighth Avenue before the rally on Aug. 29, the day before the Republican convention begins.
United for Peace and Justice is considering a lawsuit over the two permit requests, and a spokesman warned Monday activists were prepared to march without permits.
"We certainly want this to be smooth — the mayor is inviting chaos with tens of thousands of people coming from around the country," said the group's spokesman Bill Dobbs. He said the denial "is not about how many people we'll bring, or lawn care. This is about politics."
The New York Police Department is still considering the march permit, along with nearly 20 others from various groups. City officials say they are trying to weigh all the permits together in order to better plan for the convention.