Read This Before You Share the “People’s March on Washington (The Impeachment March)”
Many people want to know more about the “People’s March on Washington” (Facebook event page) being planned for January 27, 2018 in Washington D.C. It is more important than ever that people know the truth about the organizations and groups they join or support financially.
The primary organizer of this event is Lawrence Nathaniel, 24, of Columbia, SC. He has setup several different shell organizations that seem legitimate on the surface, but there’s not a lot there.
The first is the “We Are One Foundation.” This is not a legitimate foundation. It’s just a website. Second is “People Demand Action.” This is also not a legitimate organization; it was setup specifically as a website-front to lend legitimacy to the “People’s March on Washington.”
Nathaniel estimates that the January event will cost as much as $50K (Washington Post, December 24, 2017). Obviously a successful event will require permits, sanitary services, and other logistics support. The event is running a GoFundMe campaign with an unspecified beneficiary.
Nathaniel claims that the funds will go to his one actual legal entity called “The United States of America Presidential House” (incorporation certificate) which appears to be aiming to establish a ludicrous shadow government, with Lawrence Nathaniel to be declared “President” on July 4, 2018 — and its Capitol and Congress located in Charleston, SC.
This is really unhinged, fantastical nonsense. Anyone giving money to this march, this man, or this organization should know it is going to this “Presidential House” entity and whatever bizarre agenda it has. (For just how bizarre, see these posts naming “cabinet members” and talking about “The President”: 1 2 3)
If this event fails — due to inexperience, incompetence, or insanity—it will not be the first time for Nathaniel. He has had other recent failures that let down fellow organizers and attendees.
On March 25, 2017, he attempted to organize a “Rally At the Border” in California. Here’s how that ended:
The event was cancelled allegedly due to a bomb scare. Co-organizers complained that the event was driven in a top-down fashion and was extremely opaque.
Local organizers in DC have also been disappointed (and in some cases angry) that Nathaniel did not cultivate support from local groups, and indeed, the effort has no such support.
Pressed to post a photo of the required National Park Service Public Gathering Permit, the group has refused to do so. They do claim that they have received a permit, with number 18–0381. There is currently no way to verify that this is true, however, and to whom it was issued.
There are many events going on around this time, and it is important that anything that citizens choose to participate in be legitimate and beyond reproach. This event is highly questionable, and people deserve to know the facts about it before deciding to attend, and most importantly, before sharing the event with others as though it was legitimate.
It is using branding very similar to the Women’s March events, with which it has NO affiliation. Do not be confused into thinking that this event is associated with them. This is a distinction that Nathaniel has aimed to blur; do not be fooled. This is a one-off event put together by a deceptive and inexperienced individual.
Please share this article with any of your friends, and members of the general public, considering attending. They deserve to know what they are getting into; further, they deserve to know that there is a good chance this event will be cancelled. Several media outlets have been notified, and GoFundMe has been notified as well.
People asking basic questions about the event have had their comments deleted, been attacked as trolls, and are now being blocked from posting on the event page. If you have not been blocked yet, please consider posting polite and informed questions on their event page. They cannot block everyone, and we all deserve transparency here.
Certainly putting pressure on this awful presidency is an important issue and it deserves to be approached in a serious and considered way by thoughtful individuals. I wish this young man all the best, but he needs to either work with experienced people or be fully transparent and organized. Let’s either end this thing, or at least turn it over to responsible and stable people — not someone who is play-acting at being “The People’s President.”
UPDATE: A reporter looking into this says, “I checked with Park Service. The group has applied for a permit, and park service said it is working them on “logistics” before finalizing the permit.” So please be advised that the permit may not be final. (December 30, 5:19pm)
UPDATE 2: One of the organizers has characterized this article as an “aggressive and vicious sabotage campaign” in a recent post on GoFundMe. Decide for yourself. (December 30, 9:30pm)
UPDATE 3: Doug Porter has posted a new piece on Daily Kos with additional information. Please read and share his article as well. (December 31, 10:00am)
UPDATE 4: We have asked one of the people involved with the organization to answer the following questions:
- What legal entity is the fiscal sponsor for the event?
- What is its IRS tax ID number/EIN?
- What legal entity is applying for permits, and with what agencies?
- What legal entity is the beneficiary of the GoFundMe campaign?
So far these questions have not been answered. If the legal beneficiary of the fundraising campaign is “Presidential House” (as was stated previously), that entity was just registered in late October. It is thus highly improbable that the IRS has issued a ruling letter. Without a ruling letter, raising funds for this entity would appear to be in violation of both South Carolina and Michigan public solicitation laws. If this is the case, significant penalties may apply.
Responding to repeated demands to share a photo of the event permit itself, “People Demand Action” (not a legal entity, but the stated organizer) posted a screenshot of a calendar invitation for a meeting (below) on January 9th with several NPS officials.
It is improbable that NPS would issue a permit to an entity like “People Demand Action,” given that it is not a legal corporation. If there was any permit, it would need to be issued to a legal entity or entities — either individuals or to a corporation such as “Presidential House,” but that doesn’t seem to be what’s been initiated, based on the screenshot.
Asked whether the meeting on the 9th is to determine whether the permit will be issued, or if it already had been, the response from Lawrence Nathaniel was, “We have our permit Number — which blocks out of [sic] the date and guarantees us a permit. The meeting is to layout a security and medical plan.”
We will soon find out if that’s the case. Meanwhile, until we can confirm that the fundraising is legitimate, there is some chance that it is illegal public solicitation. Anyway, we have already contacted NPS to get some more answers and bring them up to speed. Citizens deserve nothing less than full transparency. (December 31, 10:00pm)
UPDATE 5: I have been in touch with the Washington Post and with the National Park Service about the event and the best information I have so far is that the permit has not been issued. My guess is that with everything going on with this it will not be issued, but we will see. If it can be brought to compliance with state and federal law, there is no reason it can’t happen, but at this late stage of the game it seems unlikely it can be successful given these constraints. My recommendation would be to seek out one of the other events happening on January 20–21; the Women’s March-affiliated event on January 20 is a good bet. (January 2, 4:30pm)
UPDATE 6: We have developed a large body of additional information that reinforces our concerns. To protect the identities of individuals who may only be peripherally involved, we will not disclose their names now. Based on our research, here is a summary of key details that must be addressed.
- Fake and Misleading Organization Names: Mr. Nathaniel has been using organization names that sound real but aren’t; they are mimicking actual organizations. People Demand Action (fake) is not People Demanding Action (exists). We Are One Foundation (fake) is not the We Are One Foundation (exists). Again, the only actual legal entity held by Mr. Nathaniel is The United States of America Presidential House; its website is wall-to-wall nonsense, and we can find no evidence that this entity has “DBA” aliases under either People Demand Action or We Are One. These real organizations have been notified.
- Probable Violation of South Carolina Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act: It appears that South Carolina requires that charitable entities soliciting funds from the public be registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s office, either as an organization BEFORE soliciting funds, or if done by an individual, the individual must be registered as a professional fundraiser. Because South Carolina state offices are closed today due to the weather, we were unable to determine if Nathaniel has registered as a professional fundraiser or if People Demand Action or any other entity associated with Nathaniel has complied with the charitable solicitation laws. We have filed a complaint with that office and will update with developments. (Note: None of the entities mentioned appear in the searchable database of registered South Carolina charities, available here.)
- Potential financial liability of other organizers: If Mr. Nathaniel does not properly enter into contracts using a registered corporate entity, other individuals named as organizers may be personally liable for any debts or obligations incurred by the event. They may also be liable for violations of other state laws. We’re just passing this info along to other folks who may be well-intentioned but aren’t aware of the possible consequences. Please be careful!
- Safety Concerns: We have repeatedly heard from people previously involved with this event, and from others, that safety is not being taken seriously by the organizers. This cannot be left to chance. There is every expectation that an event like this will be targeted by violent counterprotestors and agitators; a competent safety plan should include trained de-escalators, as have been deployed at many other recent events. There is little indication that there is any sound safety plan for this event.
We still believe that given all of these uncertainties and likely barriers (see NPS event requirements), it is improbable that this event will come to pass. But Mr. Nathaniel seems to be intent on continuing this charade (his recent update, almost certainly ghost-written). We will continue to raise appropriate legal and operational concerns until or unless they are addressed. (January 3, 2:45pm)
UPDATE 7: We have reported Mr. Nathaniel and his various groups to the State of South Carolina’s Secretary of State’s Office, which regulates charitable solicitations. We spoke with Mr. Doug Renew, Chief Investigator, who confirmed that a case file has been opened.
We have also been in contact with co-organizers located in Michigan who appear to be in violation of Michigan state law regarding charitable solicitation. The GoFundMe campaign has been unlinked from the “People Demand Action” website. However it is still linked from the Facebook event page and even the page’s existence is problematic, as the fundraising for an event like this, soliciting from every state, must be in compliance with every state’s solicitation laws.
We were briefly hopeful that bringing these legal issues to the foreground would put an end to this effort, but Mr. Nathaniel continues to make rambling videos in an attempt to keep it afloat. So we will continue to report this event to appropriate authorities. We recommend that each named organizer and anyone soliciting funds retain appropriate legal counsel. (January 5, 8:30am)
UPDATE 8: Following considerable effort to point out the legal complications associated with this event’s fundraising efforts, organizers have unlinked the GoFundMe campaign from the website and Facebook event page, effectively terminating their solicitation campaign.
We also received information about another event Mr. Nathaniel attempted to organize in Orlando, which promised big results, and then collapsed (Announcement, Collapse). According to people familiar with that event, local organizers in Florida were again left disillusioned and holding the bag.
We strongly recommend that people avoid any further interaction with this event and direct their protest energy to one of the Women’s March events happening on January 20th. Specifically, this event is happening in Washington, D.C. (January 7, 11:00am)
UPDATE 9: Organizers claimed there was a meeting today at National Park Service at 2pm to review plans for the event and discuss the permit. We cannot confirm yet whether this meeting happened or the permit has been issued. At a minimum, we have doubts about whether the organizers understand and can meet NPS’ cost-recovery and insurance requirements.
We have made multiple inquiries to determine whether the permit has in fact been issued, but have not heard any information back one way or the other yet. (January 9, 4:45pm)
UPDATE 10: We reached Michael Litterst, Chief of Communications for the National Mall and Memorial Parks at National Park Service. He issued this response:
An application has been received and we are discussing logistical details of the event with the organizers, but no permit has been issued at this point.
No additional information was supplied; we will check back later. (January 9, 6:50pm)
UPDATE 11: As of this writing, we have not been able to confirm that any permit has been issued, and do not believe one has been. It is possible the event may try to continue without a permit, which could create dangerous conditions. We will note any further changes, but we strongly recommend folks consider alternate events on January 20. (January 19, 10:15am)
UPDATE 12: We have been told by NPS late Friday that a permit of some kind has been issued by NPS for this event. Unfortunately no one has seen a copy of it, and no one knows what it specifies (how many people, where, stipulations, etc); we can’t get more details today due to the federal government shutdown. The event has raised under $1,400 and was projected to cost $50K — you do the math. If the government shutdown persists into the weekend, lack of NPS facilities or staff could potentially have an impact. If folks do wish to go, we suggest exercising caution (due to the probable lack of de-escalation training) and approaching the event with open eyes. And we hope that you were able to take part in one of the events on January 20–21. (January 22, 1:00pm)
UPDATE 13: Apparently all RallyBus coaches to this event have been cancelled because they failed to meet the minimum booking requirements. Elite Daily published a new piece today echoing these concerns. (January 23, 6:00pm)
UPDATE 14: DC Metropolitan Police apparently issued a permit (below) on January 22, that is also contingent on permits from both the National Park Service and the United States Park Police. We are attempting to confirm that those permits have been issued.
Other key things to note:
- The permit is for up to 1,500 people; so this can not and will not be a large event.
- The permit from DC police is issued to the sponsoring organization “People Demand Action,” an organization which is not incorporated anywhere and does not exist as a legal entity.
- There are several contingencies that are stipulated by the permit, including that it may be relocated, and that the permitholder must be in compliance with the law, etc. Having the permit issued to a nonexistent sponsoring organization is a big red flag here.
- Lawrence Nathaniel, and no one else, is listed as the permit-holder and the person responsible for compliance.
We reiterate our suggestion to approach this event with caution and open eyes, and we have called on the organizers to pay special attention to de-escalation awareness training for participants to ensure everyone’s safety.
P.S. — I attempted to follow up with Janrose Kasmir, who sent me a copy of this police permit with the subject line “My last communication,” and is now managing the event’s GoFundMe page, about the required NPS and US Park Police permits:
Thanks Janrose. I will share this. Can you please send me a copy of the NPS permit and the United States Park Police permit that is cited, and I will share that also?
This was her repsonse:
You didn’t read carefully- WE ARE DONE!!!!!!
See you at the rally- I will not answer ANY MORE EMAILS!!!!
Please decide for yourself if this is worth your time. I’ve not seen something so haphazard and unhinged in quite some time. (January 24, 2018, 12:30pm)
UPDATE 15: We received an email from Michael Litterst at NPS with a copy of the NPS permit, issued this morning. Notably, it is for 1,500 persons, and it is issued to Lawrence Nathaniel alone. “People Demand Action” is mentioned as an affiliated organization, despite the fact that it doesn’t exist as any sort of legal entity. You can review the permit here.
It is unclear what may happen if the event exceeds 1,500 people, and indeed the Facebook event has 3K “going” and 20K+ “interested.” Set your expectations accordingly; the permit for 1,500 requires 5 only portable toilets. With fundraising hovering at around $1,500, it’s not clear how expenses will be covered. If you go, exercise caution. (January 25, 12:00pm)
This story will be updated as more information becomes available. To contact me about this story, please email me. Thanks!