News & Politics

Months After That Disastrous Trump Photo Op, Lafayette Square Is Reopening. But It Doesn’t Look Quite the Same.

And the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue remains closed to pedestrians.

Lafayette Square last week. Photograph by Evy Mages

Lafayette Square, the park near the White House that’s been fenced off since last summer, reopened to the public on Monday. Sort of.

The fences around the park remain; it’s only the gates to the park that have opened. They opened on a few occasions in 2020, but the park has remained mostly off-limits since protests that followed George Floyd’s murder by a cop caused former President Trump to hide in a bunker in the White House. Trump famously strode across the square for a bizarre photo op in front of St. John’s Church on June 1, 2020, after the feds cleared protesters for him by using tear gas and smoke.

The Pennsylvania Avenue plaza between Lafayette Square and the White House remains blocked off by “bike rack”-style fencing and concrete barriers, someone who visited the park Monday tells Washingtonian. That closure was ostensibly occasioned by the White House fence replacement project, though that new, taller fencing appears to be in place on the plaza. Last week, Washingtonian asked a US Secret Service spokesperson when the agency planned to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue and got a version of a statement we’ve received too many times to count: “Due to the need to maintain operational security, we do not discuss the exact type or location of security fencing or other operational means and methods.”

 

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.