Getting a permit is always a good idea, to alert police what you’ll be doing and reserve your location.
Rules and procedures vary based on location. Metro stations and D.C. streets and sidewalks are local territory. All green space downtown (even small parks), the National Mall, federal buildings/monuments (and nearby sidewalks), and Rock Creek Park are federal land.
If you want to demonstrate on local territory, permitting is governed by D.C. law.
D.C. calls protests “First Amendment Assemblies” (“Assemblies”). There’s a process to notify the D.C. government and obtain its approval of plans for Assemblies. No notice/approval is needed if the Assembly won’t block pedestrians from using sidewalks/crosswalks, or attendance will be under 50 and the Assembly won’t be on a D.C. street, or the assembly breaks out spontaneously. Still, giving notice and getting approval is a good idea. Visit: http://mpdc.dc.gov/service/get-permit-special-event
If you want to demonstrate on federal land, permitting is governed by National Park Service regulations.
You’ll need a permit to demonstrate on federal land if you have 25 or more people. Exceptions:
- Up to 500 people allowed without permit at Franklin Park at 13th & K St NW, or McPherson Square at 15th & K St NW
- Up to 100 people allowed on the green space at 18th & H St NW
- Up to 1000 people allowed on green area next to Rock Creek at 23rd & P St NW
The application form and instructions are here: https://www.nps.gov/nama/planyourvisit/demonstrations.htm
For more information, contact the Park Police at (202) 245-4715 (Mon-Fri 8-4) for assistance.