WASHINGTON — U.S. Secret Service has removed fencing and barricades that blocked people from being able to walk all the way up to the North Lawn fence in front of the White House.
“The portion of Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House sidewalk between 15th and 17th Streets NW has been reopened to foot and bicycle traffic,” said U.S. Secret Service in a statement on Sunday. Later this summer, a National Park Service paving project will require Pennsylvania Avenue and adjacent areas be closed.
Fencing barriers were seen going up as early as June of 2020 after protests ensued in response to George Floyd’s death. Last year, police forcibly removed peaceful protesters from the Lafayette Square area using rubber bullets, smoke bombs and pepper balls before former President Donald Trump took a photo in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
A report from the Interior Department’s inspector general later found federal police officers violently cleared protestors so a contractor could install fencing, not to let Trump hold a photo opportunity at a nearby church.
The report adds that the law enforcement agencies at the scene did not coordinate well, and that the U.S. Secret Service began advancing on protesters before the Park Police had a chance to warn them to disperse.
The fencing was recently replaced by an approximately 13-foot tall fence with wider and stronger posts, according to the National Park Service. The new fence incorporates anti-climb and intrusion detection technology and is designed to mitigate current and future security threats.
The section of Pennsylvania Avenue NW right in front of the White House is typically closed to cars and open to pedestrians year-round, with occasional closures for maintenance or presidential movements. Lafayette Square, the park in front of the White House, is also open to the public and is rarely closed.