Norton: Let My People Sled (Updated)
Updated 4:50 p.m. | Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., has asked for a waiver on the Capitol Hill sledding ban for the coming weekend, ahead of expected snowfall in the District of Columbia.
“This could be the last snowstorm the D.C. area gets this winter, and may be one of the best for sledding in years,” Norton said in a letter sent Wednesday to Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Frank J. Larkin, chairman of the Capitol Police Board. The capital region is expected to receive 4 to 8 inches of snow during a storm stretching from Wednesday evening to Thursday. Norton is asking that the ban be waived from March 5 to March 8. “Children and their parents should able to enjoy sledding on one of the best hills in the city,” Norton continued. “This is a one-time waiver that will allow D.C. kids to sled while we await a more formal review of the ban, which will likely come after the last snow has fallen in our region.
“Have a heart, Mr. Larkin,” Norton wrote, “a kid’s heart that is.”
According to Norton’s office, D.C. residents have since been flooding the SAA’s office with calls and emails about the Capitol Hill sledding ban.
Currently, Capitol Police traffic regulations state, “No person shall coast or slide a sled within Capitol Grounds.” But traffic regulations also allow the Capitol Police Board, comprised of Larkin; Architect of the Capitol Stephen T. Ayers; House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul D. Irving; and Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine, to “waive any restriction or prohibition contained in these regulations.”
Norton also garnered support from one congressional leader Wednesday afternoon. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a former Capitol Police officer, sided with Norton, tweeting that he would co-sign her letter.
The waiver request comes after some Capitol Hill residents took the fight to sled into their own hands. Lyndsey Medsker started a Change.org petition asking Ayers and Dine to lift the sledding ban. So far, 157 people have signed.
“The forecast calls for a sled-worthy snowstorm to hit Washington, D.C. in the next 24 hours, likely the last opportunity for the children of D.C. to partake in a favorite childhood pastime, sledding, this winter,” Medsker wrote. “In recent weeks, those attempting to sled on the Capitol grounds have been brusquely asked to leave the premise. Please lift the ban!”
Capitol Police have typically looked the other way when it came to sledding at the Capitol, but officers have recently been enforcing the ban. According to an HOH tipster, officers were were apparently enforcing the ban due to complaints by a top member of Congress.
In 2010, then-Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., secured a similar waiver by working with the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms, allowing residents to sled on Capitol Hill during “Snowpocalypse.”
On Feb. 24, Norton sent a letter to members of the Capitol Police Board asking for a review of the sledding ban policy.
“The U.S. Capitol Police Board received Congresswoman Norton’s letter,” Larkin said in a statement to CQ Roll Call early Wednesday afternoon, referring to the letter sent last week. “As a result, a review of the statute prohibiting sledding on the Capitol Grounds is underway. The Board intends to respond to her letter as soon as the review is complete.”
Larkin has yet to comment on Norton’s most recent request for a waiver.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
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