Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein this week announced that the National Archives had conducted a review of an incident that occurred on Saturday, January 12, 2008, at the National Archives Headquarters Building. According to a report filed by the National Archives security staff, protesters tried to gain entrance to the Constitution Avenue side of the National Archives Building. They were asked to leave their placards and signs outside. A security guard also requested that they cover up t-shirts that announced their protest.
In the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom, several of the protesters then engaged in loud comments attempting to attract attention and encourage other visitors to the Rotunda to join them. Their behavior in the Rotunda was disturbing some of the visitors, so National Archives security guards asked the protesters to leave the building.
National Archives regulations state that visitors may not distribute leaflets, fliers, handbills and other materials. Visitors are also prohibited from “acting in a disorderly fashion…in a manner that creates a loud or unusual noise or nuisance.”
The National Archives investigation found that the security force acted properly in requesting that the placards and signs be left outside and in asking the protesters to leave the building after they had violated the conduct regulations by talking loudly, thereby disturbing other visitors. However, the report found also that there was no reason to ask the individuals involved to cover up t-shirts that expressed their protest.