Lafayette Square Reopens To The Public After 11 Months Of Being Totally Fenced Off Fencing remains around Lafayette Square, but pedestrians can access the park through open gates.
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Lafayette Square Reopens To The Public After 11 Months Of Being Totally Fenced Off

The fence is still up around Lafayette Square, but gates are open for pedestrians to walk through. vishal charles/Flickr hide caption

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vishal charles/Flickr

The public can once again return to Lafayette Square near the White House.

The fencing is still up, but gates have opened to allow pedestrians and cyclists access into the square.

"In protecting the White House and its residents, the U.S. Secret Service acknowledges that the surrounding area can be a powerful symbol of our nation and our democracy, and the agency is committed to balancing necessary security measures with the importance of public access and view," the Secret Service said in a statement to DCist.

They declined to answer more questions about why the park is opening now and when or if the fences will come down.

"Due to the need to maintain operational security, we do not discuss the specifics of security fencing or other operational means and methods," a spokesperson wrote in an email.

For now, you can't access Pennsylvania Avenue or get as close to the White House fence as you used to. Low metal fences, strapped into squares in front of concrete barriers, separate the square and Pennsylvania Avenue. You can see what access now looks like in this video.

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The limited access came as a moment of surprise — and joy —for passersby on Monday (many of them journalists) after the park's almost year-long closure. The fencing went up last June, shortly after police and National Guard troops forcibly removed peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square for former president Donald Trump's infamous Bible-clutching photo op.

In early March, the fencing surrounding St. John's Episcopal Church, situated across the street from Lafayette Square, came down, and the Capitol Police scaled back the fencing that surrounded the U.S. Capitol later that month.

Still, 1.25 miles of fencing remains around the Capitol complex, to the dismay of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Capitol Police have reportedly discussed keeping the fencing up through September.

This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.

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