Muriel Bowser

Park Service Says Fence Near White House to Come Down

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The National Park Service is calling a newly erected fence in front of a White House protest area temporary.

Park Service spokeswoman Katie Liming said Monday that her agency and the Secret Service expect to reopen part of Lafayette Park in front of the White House on Wednesday.

Liming says some areas of the park will remain closed to allow workers to deal with damage and address safety hazards. Liming gave no details and no time for when the rest of the square would reopen.

Lafayette Park in front of the White House is one of the country’s most prominent sites for political protests and other free-speech events.

It’s been closed off since early last week, when law officers used chemical agents and other force to drive out protesters in the nationwide rallies against police brutality.

Authorities left a newly erected high black fence blocking the square, even though recent protests have been overwhelmingly calm.

Protesters have transformed the fence with their signs and messages.

Liming says the Washington Ellipse, Sherman Park and some other landmark areas also will reopen Wednesday.

Demonstrations continued in D.C. Monday after tens of thousands of people participated in protests that were “exclusively without violence” this weekend, the police chief said. 

As scores of people flooded into the District to call for police reform and racial justice, one person was arrested Saturday, Chief of Police Peter Newsham said at a news conference Monday. The suspect was charged with attempted burglary. 

Police also made one arrest Sunday, when demonstrations were more sparsely attended. That person was charged with defacing property. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday she believed “people bent on destruction were probably outnumbered and left” the demonstrations last week. Police made more arrests early on in the demonstrations. Ninety people were arrested May 31 and 289 were arrested June 1. 

The Metropolitan Police Department released photos and videos Monday of numerous others who are still wanted for committing crimes during the protests.

Police are prepared to facilitate additional peaceful protests this week, Newsham said. 

Demonstrations grew stronger Monday as the day continued. Gone were the 10-ton military tanks and city curfew. 

Members of the National Guard should be leaving the city soon, the mayor said. 

Huge yellow letters on 16th Street that say “Black Lives Matter” are here to stay, Bowser said. 

“We think it’s going to have a central place not only D.C. history but American history,” she said. 

The city commissioned the curb-to-curb message that was painted Friday morning. On Saturday, activists added to it in the same style of lettering so it read in full, “Black Lives Matter = Defund the Police.”

The second part is “not a part of the mural,” the mayor said. But she recognized it as “expression” that is important. There’s no plan to remove the activists’ message. 

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