WASHINGTON — The National Park Service notified T-shirt vendors Monday that they can no longer sell the shirts on the National Mall and at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, effective Sunday.
Barring a last-minute court reprieve, T-shirts will no longer be available for purchase in federal parks in Washington. T-shirt vendors with valid District of Columbia permits can continue to sell on city streets.
Jan Scruggs, president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, said he welcomed the Park Service action.
"I believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of the memorial being used as a retail vending outlet," he said.
For years, Scruggs has urged the Park Service to oust the vendors, who he says have sold T-shirts under the guise of a round-the-clock protest within sight of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Some protest groups had held such demonstrations for more than a decade, financing their efforts through the sale of message-bearing T-shirts.
In 1995, the Park Service issued new regulations banning the sale of T-shirts in the Washington parks because of what it called a flea-market atmosphere created by the clothing displays near the monuments and memorials. Critics said the T-shirt ban was unconstitutional because it infringed on freedom of speech.
Several groups, concentrated at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and on the Mall near the Smithsonian Institution museums, succeeded in having themselves exempted from the ban while their attorney challenged it. Those groups received notice from the Park Service on Monday.