As the city prepares for the January 20 inauguration of Joe Biden, Washington, D.C. is turning into a militarized zone in the wake of the storming of the Capitol last Wednesday. The Capitol and Supreme Court are fenced off, the Washington Monument has been closed and thousands of troops are being deployed to D.C.–with no complaints by Democrats.
Following last Wednesday’s events, where supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, a non-scaleable fence, anchored with cement barriers, has been erected surrounding the Capitol Building. pic.twitter.com/i6T3VWffxw
— DJ Judd (@DJJudd) January 11, 2021
Last year, a week after Antifa and Black Lives Matter insurrectionists tried to storm the White House on May 29 and torched and looted buildings, stores, restaurants, cars and a historic church near the White house that same weekend, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) accused President Trump of turning D.C. into a “military zone.”
The top House and Senate Democrats called on Trump to take down security fencing protecting Lafayette Park days after rioters had set fire to a Park Service building in the park, saying that making the park look like a “militarized zone” “sends the worst possible message to the American public and people around the world. 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 statement by Pelosi and Schumer paints the protesters as peaceful and makes no mention of the rioting, arson and looting that took place, nor the dozens of law enforcement officers wounded by the Antifa and Black Lives Matter insurrectionists.
The fence was taken down by the Secret Service on June 11 as the demonstrations had remained peaceful for several days.
A week-and-a-half later, on June 22, insurrectionists tried to tear down the equestrian statue of President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park. The fence went back up the next day.
Pelosi and Schumer press release and letter dated June 8, 2020.
In New Letter, Pelosi and Schumer Call on President Trump to Immediately Tear Down New Walls and Reopen Lafayette Square to Public; Dem Leaders Say Trump Admin. has Turned Symbol of Freedom and Openness into Oppressive Space Resembling Militarized Zone
JUNE 8, 2020 PRESS RELEASE
Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer to President Trump: Immediately Reopen Lafayette Square to the Public
Washington, D.C. – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today sent a letter to President Donald Trump, demanding that he immediately reopen Lafayette Square, a space long used by Americans to freely exercise their First Amendment rights, and recently closed to the public following a wave of peaceful protests.
In the letter, Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer strongly condemn the Administration’s June 1st use of federal officers to forcibly remove peaceful protestors from the Square using tear gas and other violent means so the President could hold a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church, and the installation of semi-permanent steel fencing to obstruct citizens’ access to Lafayette Square.
Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer write that the Administration’s claim that the closing of Lafayette Square is required for security is insufficient – particularly in light of the dramatic expansion of the White House’s security perimeter in the mid-1990’s – and emphasize that Lafayette Square should remain a symbol of freedom and openness, not a place behind which the President cowers in fear of protesters who are crying out for justice.
Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer’s letter to President Trump can be found here and below:
June 8, 2020
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
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.
On June 1, 2020, you were responsible for ordering federal officers to force peaceful protestors from the Square using tear gas and other violent means, in clear violation of the protestors’ First Amendment rights of free of speech and assembly. This deeply offensive action was taken in service of the regrettable political stunt you staged at St. John’s Church that evening.
You have now erected heavy, semi-permanent steel fencing to wall off the Square. 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. 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.
It is not sufficient for your Administration to claim that security needs somehow require the closing of Lafayette Square. The secure perimeter of the White House was expanded dramatically in 1995 with the closure of sections of Pennsylvania Avenue and E Street, NW. Those measures have for a quarter of a century been adequate to protect the White House complex from terrorism and all manner of other threats. It is simply not credible to claim that the current protests justify the oppressive walls you have erected in response.
We therefore urge you to tear down these walls, reopen Lafayette Square, and allow the public to gather there for you and all the world to hear their voices.
Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter of importance to our democracy.
NANCY PELOSI CHARLES E. SCHUMER
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