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Abe Lincoln' Fined While Reciting Gettysburg Address at Lincoln Memorial


“It does seem a little ironic that the ‘Land of the Free’ cannot be so free at times.”

A 25-year-old Washington, D.C. intern has been fined after he dressed up as Abraham Lincoln on Presidents Day and delivered the Gettysburg Address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His offense? He didn't have a permit.

The Daily Caller explains:

On President’s Day — standing where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” — Phillip Howell, 25, recited Lincoln’s famous address and was quickly stopped by the Park Police officer. He told Howell that he could not give speeches on the steps of the memorial without a permit.

“He called me Abe, and then I turned around and he said, ‘Do you have a permit?’ I said ‘no’ and he said, ‘well you can’t do that here then,’” Howell told The Daily Caller. “Then I said, ‘I’m just giving the Gettysburg Address, come on, it’s President’s Day.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care what you’re giving, You’re not allowed to do that here. I don’t care what speech or what agenda you want to give.’”

Confused as to why it is actually illegal to read the words carved into the memorial’s wall in a loud voice, but not wanting to cause any trouble, the 6-foot-4 Howell, who sports a thick beard and looks just like Honest Abe in a top hat and suit, moved to the bottom of the steps and delivered the rest of the speech to a cheering crowd.

Innocent enough. And the fine wasn't levied right then and there. Instead, Howell was ticketed when his friends suggested he start passing a basket around and try to make a few bucks. That, too, requires a permit:

That’s when the officer walked down the steps and asked the duo if they had a license for street vending.

“I could arrest you,” Howell recalled the officer saying.

They told the officer they didn’t know it was illegal and would be on their way. The officer refused, detained them at the base of the memorial, and wrote Howell and his friend holding the basket $100 in tickets.

A spokesman for the Parks Service told the Daily Caller the permit requirement is in place to ensure all groups have the opportunity to use the space. And in the end, that's just fine with Howell.

“It does seem a little ironic that the ‘Land of the Free’ cannot be so free at times,” he told the DC. “But other than that, I have no issue with what the officers did.”

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