Saturday, July 29, 2017

Gettysburg Battle Anniversary Day 1

My fifth week here at Gettysburg
saw me being pulled over to the Law Enforcement Division in preparation of the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.The battle anniversary, July 1-3, is always a busy time for Gettysburg NMP, with thousands of visitors coming to the park over the three days. This year was different than others, however, for several reasons. In the weeks before the anniversary, rumors were circulating online that demonstrators might try and burn confederate flags on the battlefield.  As a result, several organizations and groups applied for permits for a counter demonstration, so in addition to the normal anniversary crowds, Gettysburg NMP was preparing for several first amendment demonstrations inside the park. Gettysburg was well prepared for the events, and brought in additional manpower from several parks and agencies. In the coming week, maintenance set up an extensive first amendment area for the various groups that would be demonstrating, while visitor and resource protection began coordinating security for the anniversary. On Friday, I learned more about the law enforcement situation for the anniversary and first amendment event. It was very interesting to hear how large events were coordinated from a law enforcement perspective. I also helped set up a police line near the first amendment area in order to to direct foot traffic away from the nearby orchard.
Setting up a police line near the first amendment area.

An Incident Command Post was set up in the park to coordinate communication and information between the various agencies working the event, which included state police and US Park Police. I was fortunate enough to visit the command post on Saturday morning, and hear the day’s briefing. After the briefing, I went to my post for the day, a crosswalk near General Mead’s headquarters, where I helped visitors cross the street and manage traffic.
Mounted State Police on their way to the Ranger Station 
 All in all, the first day of the anniversary was a success. The large groups planning on demonstrating at Gettysburg never really materialized, although several private militia organizations did show up to the anniversary. Thankfully, the day went largely without incident. However, a visitor suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and had to be stabilized and transported to the hospital. Towards the end of the day, a major storm blew through the park, sending tourists packing, and signaling an end to the first day.

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