Fort Reno is one of those rare nice things that Washington, D.C. gets from time to time, like cherry blossoms. A weekly event where people play music in Fort Reno Park for free, the summer concert series was a nice break from the dull tedium that is the Beltway, and had been happening since 1968. Much of the D.C. punk scene made at least one appearance, and now Amanda MacKaye (Ian’s sister) helps organize the events. It’s a tight operation, but it still manages to draw a lot of people, and is pretty popular with the locals.
Which is why America had to shut it down: In the name of freedom.
On the day that Fort Reno was to announce its schedule this year, MacKaye announced that this season was cancelled. The reason? The National Park Service, whose jurisdiction includes Fort Reno Park, told organizers around the time they were supposed to get their permit that they now had to pay an additional fee to the U.S. Park Police to have a Park Ranger stationed at every show, something that never happened before. Because, you know… terrorists. In any event, the cost of this fee for all the shows combined was more than double the entire Fort Reno budget. When organizers attempted to meet with the NPS and USPP, the only person that showed up at the meeting was “one extremely kind NPS employee” who was still clueless as to the situation. With no choice, the organizers killed it off for now.
Shortly after the announcement went live, the NPS issued a response acknowledging the “security” problem, but refusing to admit that they suck at attending meetings. They did offer some hope by saying they still want to talk to organizers, only to burn a bridge by requesting approximately $2,640 in security back pay for eight previous Fort Reno shows (which, if you used some guesswork, is likely about $55/hr to whoever worked that shift), according to Jonathan Fischer of the Washington City Paper. Support came from Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, whose Congressional district sits next to the representation-less D.C., sending out a letter to the NPS asking what the hell’s going on. (A Change.org petition has also been set up.) For now, though, there shall be no punk concerts in Fort Reno this summer.
• Fort Reno: http://www.fortreno.com