Lafayette Square opens for first time post-Trump
Lafayette Square, located just across the street from the White House, reopened to pedestrians on Monday for the first time in nearly a year after being shuttered when police forcibly cleared protesters to allow a photo op for then-President Trump.
The entrance to the park was reopened along H Street NW and visitors could be seen walking, jogging and biking through the park on Monday morning. Pennsylvania Avenue NW, directly in front of the White House, remained closed to the public. Fencing remains in place along H Street, however, to funnel visitors into one entrance to the park.
Lafayette Square is open! pic.twitter.com/piCIUxvcg4
— Jérôme Cartillier (@jcartillier) May 10, 2021
— Andrew Leyden (@PenguinSix) May 10, 2021
When reached for comment on the changes, a Secret Service spokesperson said: “In protecting the White House and its residents, the U.S. Secret Service acknowledges that the surrounding area can be a powerful symbol of our nation and our democracy, and the agency is committed to balancing necessary security measures with the importance of public access and view. Due to the need to maintain operational security, we do not discuss the specifics of security fencing or other operational means and methods.”
Fences were erected around the White House complex in the first week of June 2020 as demonstrations grew in size in response to the death of George Floyd. Floyd was murdered by former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest.
The fencing around Lafayette Square was installed after law enforcement dispersed peaceful protesters from the area using smoke canisters and tear gas, clearing the way for Trump to walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church to have photos taken alongside several top administration officials.
The park has been closed off since then, with residents at times turning the fencing into makeshift memorials for victims of police violence.
Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House has been closed at the same time for various construction projects, including the installation of a taller fence in front of the grounds and for inauguration-related projects.
Updated at 1:35 p.m.