Another one of Donald Trump’s walls has failed to stand the test of time.
Some of the extra barriers installed around the White House over the last year will be removed, the Secret Service announced on Sunday. Once again, people will be able to walk up to the fence on the North Lawn of the compound, a space which has hosted tourists and protesters alike for more than 100 years.
“The portion of Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House sidewalk between 15th and 17th Streets NW has been reopened to foot and bicycle traffic,” the Secret Service, which protects the president and the White House, said in a statement.
Last June, the Trump administration installed additional barriers around the compound, part of its response to George Floyd protests in Washington DC, where riot police violently cleared out demonstrators from a park in front of the White House with tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper balls, and smoke bombs ahead of a photo opportunity where Donald Trump posed in front of a nearby church holding a bible.
The attempts to wall off the White House had an unexpected side effect: the new fences became a hub for protest art, with demonstrators plastering the walls with posters and paintings with messages about Black Lives Matter and the 2020 presidential election.
“It’s like the whole nation is crying, and this whole fence is crying,” Kai Gamanya, who helped paint an image of a clenched fist on one placard, told NPR at the time. “And if you were to back up and see it from beginning to end, it’s nothing but posters from all the way down.”
Others took issue with the symbolism of the barriers around the White House, sometimes referred to as the “People’s House.” Though security around the facility has existed for centuries, various presidents like the populist Andrew Jackson took that message quite literally, inviting throngs of his supporters inside the grounds for raucous parties.
“The house is meant to be the home of a citizen chosen by other citizens to lead the executive branch for a finite period,” Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic magazine, wrote in a commentary piece. “It is definitively not meant to be a palace.”
Beyond just the fences, the Trump administration took a dim view of last summer’s nationwide civil rights protests, sending heavily armed federal agents into cities around the country, some of whom made arrests and detained demonstrators in unmarked vehicles in Portland, Oregon.Wall Street Journal journalist Michael Bender reported that Mr Trump also wanted federal troops to go in “beat the f**K out of” racial justice campaigners or “just shoot them.”