The mesh metal fencing first erected around two Washington, D.C., landmarks amid rioting and protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd last year are finally being removed.
Roughly nine months after the fencing was placed around Lafayette Park and St. John’s Episcopal Church, D.C. residents celebrated the deconstruction of the makeshift borders on Monday.
“It is a great day for St. John’s and for the District to have the fencing come down around the church,” Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington Mariann Budde said in a statement to DCist. “St. John’s is a vibrant city church, deeply committed racial equity and peaceful civic engagement for the common good. There is no fence around our hearts, and we are relieved to have the physical barriers removed at last.”
The fencing first went up in June 2020 after former President Donald Trump’s photo-op at the church caused a clash between protestors and law enforcement who sought to clear the area for the president. In the months that followed, protests and violence plagued the district, as Black Lives Matter protestors and far-right groups clashed.
Though the removal of the fencing is a step in returning to normalcy for the district, seven-foot-tall fencing around Capitol Hill remains, and may remain in place through September.
Residents, local officials and lawmakers have called for the removal of the fence, which has become a flashpoint in arguments over how to secure the Capitol in the aftermath of the January 6 siege.