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Scientists Planning Their Own March on Washington

Scientists hold signs during a rally in conjunction with the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting on Dec. 13, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

WASHINGTON — After the Women’s March on Washington brought some 500,000 protesters into the streets of the nation’s capital, now come the scientists.

The Scientists’ March on Washington has yet to peg a date for the demonstration, but says details are coming soon.

In the meantime, the movement hatched on Reddit has amassed 26,000 Twitter followers and is building momentum with the hashtag #ScienceMarch.

“Although this will start with a march, we hope to use this as a starting point to take a stand for science in politics. Slashing funding and restricting scientists from communicating their findings (from tax-funded research!) with the public is absurd and cannot be allowed to stand as policy. This is a non-partisan issue that reaches far beyond people in the STEM fields and should concern anyone who values empirical research and science,” the group said on its still-being-developed website.

“There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action. The diversity of life arose by evolution,” the statement continues. “Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.”

The march Twitter account said Tuesday the official date will be announced next week, and sister marches will be organized outside D.C. as happened with the women’s march. The Washington Post named two of the grassroots co-chairs as University of Texas Health Science Center postdoctoral fellow Jonathan Berman and science writer and public health researcher Caroline Weinberg.

“It has never been more important for scientists of all stripes to come together and have their voices heard in government,” the organizers tweeted today. “…Some have asked whether non-scientists can march. The answer is: YES! All who believe in empirical science can (and should) march.”

The march planning comes amid reports of a Trump administration gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency, which hasn’t tweeted since Jan. 19. A trio of tweets on Tuesday from the Badlands National Park account about climate change were removed; NBC reported a former employee of the park service hijacked the account to send out the tweets, though the park had tweeted about climate in the past.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said an email sent to Agricultural Research Service ordering that the unit not release “any public-facing documents” including “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content” was  was “released without Departmental direction, and prior to Departmental guidance being issued.”

“ARS will be providing updated direction to its staff,” the USDA said in a statement. “…ARS values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public.”

“I don’t think it’s any surprise that when there’s an administration turnover, that we’re going to review the policies,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday in regards to an EPA gag question.