MOUNT PISGAH, N.C. – National Park Service rangers blocked the entrance to Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway southwest of Asheville, N.C. The company that runs the facility on federal-leased land had defied the government’s shutdown order before police blockaded his small business. Bruce O’Connell is the owner of the establishment, who is trying to do business in the height of tourist season while the federal government is forcing nationwide shutdowns of parks and services. At first he planned on acquiescing to government demands to close shop, but he then decided on Thursday to reopen in defiance of shutdown orders. It didn’t take long before the cops moved in.
O’Connell was inspired after the World War II veterans stormed the barricades in Washington D.C. that were blocking them from seeing their memorial. National Park Service have erected stronger barricades and wired them shut in order to block tourists from visiting open air monuments. ”Conscience, conviction. That’s about it,” O’Connell said of his decision to keep his business open in defiance of orders to close. The standoff only lasted about two hours before Park Rangers were called in to block the entrances to his establishment and stop him from selling cookies, gifts and food to hungry tourists.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is not a closed national park so there seems to be no legitimate reason for the shutdown of the small business, other than to force private citizens to feel as much pain as possible. Communities with national parks will lost around $76 million per day due to the forced shutdown. A vote in the federal government today established that furloughed state employees will receive back pay, but of course no private citizens losing money from their businesses can make up for losses incurred.
Steve Stinnett, Chief of the Blue Ridge Parkway Police is standing by to make sure that ”people don’t utilize a business that, according to the federal government, is closed.”