- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2020

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday demanded President Trump break down new barricades around the White House, accusing him of turning a public park into a “militarized zone.”

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer rejected the White House’s argument that its new fencing and expanded perimeter were necessary security precautions, arguing that there was “adequate” measures already in place to protect the White House complex from “terrorism and all manner of other threats.”

“Your conversion of this unique public park in the heart of our nation’s capital to what looks like a militarized zone denies citizens access to the park and sends the worst possible message to the American public and people around the world,” the Democratic leaders wrote in a 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.”

The new, semi-permanent fencing began going up last week after federal law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from the area near Lafayette Square ahead of the president’s photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Though unrest and property damage rocked the capital when protests first began, the demonstrations have been largely peaceful over the past few days.

Some protesters had illegally breached the temporary barricades, while other demonstrators have taken to hanging “Black Lives Matter” banners and similar posters on the fencing itself.

In a statement issued Friday, the Secret Service said the fencing will remain up until June 10.

“These closures are in an effort to maintain the necessary security measures surrounding the White House complex, while also allowing for peaceful demonstration,” the statement read. “Security fencing has been erected and the areas are clearly marked.”

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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