Washington DC

Volunteers Move Protest Signs as Crews Start to Dismantle White House Fence

Protesters covered parts of the fence with signs reading "Black Lives Matter" and paying tribute to George Floyd

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Volunteers were seen moving a makeshift public art gallery and memorials to George Floyd that were papered on fences erected around the White House during several days of anti-police brutality protests.

As crews began to remove some concrete reinforcements on the fencing, a group of volunteers moved dozens of signs that read "Black Lives Matter" or paid tribute to African-Americans killed by police brutality.

Many were moved just across the street, affixed to a temporary wall around a construction site.

Crews have begun to dismantle parts of a large fence that was erected around the White House grounds and Lafayette Square during massive protests over the death of Floyd in police custody.

Crews began on Wednesday to remove some of the fencing erected around the White House in response to protests over the death of George Floyd. News4's Justin Finch reports.

Flatbed trucks were seen early Wednesday being loaded with concrete supports that reinforced fencing on 15th street near the Constitution Avenue, which is southeast of the White House.

One woman said it was about preserving free speech.

Dozens of people signed a petition to preserve some of the fencing and the protest gallery as a National Historic Landmark.

There was some confusion over which parts of the fence would be removed and when. Protesters have still gathered each night around the White House.

At the start of the week, when the park service said officials would remove “most” of the fence blocking off Lafayette Square on Wednesday.

The Trump administration appeared to be backing away from its commitment to quickly remove most of a new fence on Tuesday evening.

Protesters have transformed the fence blocking them from Lafayette Square into a canvas for their messages. News4's Shomari Stone reports.

National Park Service spokeswoman Katie Liming says her agency was in “continuing discussions” with the Secret Service about what Liming still calls the temporary fence at the front of the White House.

The square historically has been one of the nation's most prominent spots for demonstrations and other public advocacy.

Police officers first shut down Lafayette Square, north of the White House, after standoffs between officers and protesters on Friday, May 29. That was four days after Floyd's killing and the first day D.C.'s coronavirus stay-at-home order was lifted.

After federal forces cleared protesters from Lafayette Square and near St. John's Church the following Monday so President Donald Trump could visit for a photo op, crews began putting up tall fences around the White House and nearby parks.

As the city prepared for larger protests over the weekend, fencing was extended and concrete reinforcements were put in place.

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