Lafayette Park, which was at the center of a recent tension between President Donald Trump and police brutality protesters, will partially reopen to the public on Wednesday, June 10, according to the National Park Service (NPS).
Federal police had forcibly cleared hundreds of protesters from Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, on Monday, June 1, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and sound cannons.
NPS announced last week the closure of all of Lafayette Park along with other areas around the White House from June 4 through June 10.
A massive fence was erected around the park after it was closed. It has become a platform for racial justice defenders to display their protest art in the meantime. However, NPS will lift the fence when they reopen the park.
On Monday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (NY) sent Trump a letter, asking for Lafayette Square to be reopened right away, saying it now looked like a “militarized zone.”
“We call on you to immediately reopen Lafayette Square to the public, a place which has long been a venue where Americans can gather to freely exercise their constitutional rights in close proximity to the White House,” the two Democratic leaders said in the letter.
“Lafayette Square should be a symbol of freedom and openness, not a place behind which the leader of our Executive Branch cowers in fear of protesters who are crying out for justice,” they wrote.
The controversial police intervention in Lafayette Park took place right before President Trump and other officials walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church across the street from the White House and posed for photos with a Bible outside the church.
The demonstrators were protesting against the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, in police custody in Minneapolis.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) later sued President Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and other federal officials for violating protesters’ constitutional rights.
On June 8, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said that the White House has no regrets about the police’s treatment of the protesters in Lafayette Square last week.
“There’s no regrets on the part of this White House,” she said during a briefing. “I’d note that many of those decisions were not made here within the White House. It was Barr who made the decision to move the perimeter. Monday night Park Police had also made that decision independently when they saw all the violence in Lafayette Square.”