National Park Service agrees to start granting protest permits for Trump inauguration

WASHINGTON (AP) — Civil rights attorneys in Washington have declared victory after the National Park Service said it would issue permits to groups seeking to protest the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.

Park service spokesman Mike Litterst said in a statement Thursday that the agency will be issuing permits soon, particularly for the Ellipse near the White House. More than 30 groups have applied for permits.

The park service typically reserves space on and around the National Mall for use by the Presidential Inaugural Committee. But the attorneys representing protesters said the agency went too far this time in blocking access to public space. They had threatened to sue by Friday if permits weren't granted.

Attorney Mara Verheyden-Hilliard calls the park service announcement "a significant victory for free speech."