This Independence Day there are two more signs from the nation’s capital that the “Biden calm” has taken hold securely. As of today the U.S. Secret Service has removed the intimidating layer of fencing and barricades that has prevented people from walking all of the way up to the North Lawn fence in front of the White House for more than a year. And, U.S. Capitol Police have announced that the ring of fence that has surrounded the ground of the U.S. Capitol since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection also will be dismantled within days.
“The portion of Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House sidewalk between 15th and 17th Streets NW has been reopened to foot and bicycle traffic,” the Secret Service said in a statement on Sunday.
The perimeter around the White House was fortified with concrete barriers and vehicle traffic prohibited following the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. Access to the Pennsylvania Avenue side that provides the closest view of the executive mansion was restricted to pedestrians and bicyclists. But in June 2020, after protests broke out across the country and in Lafayette Square, just across the street from the White House in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, higher, more impenetrable fencing and other barriers were installed. Under Donald Trump the “People’s House” essentially been turned into a fortified bunker only to be observed from afar.
It was because of the move to install that higher fencing that police forcibly removed peaceful protesters from the Lafayette Square area using rubber bullets, smoke bombs and pepper balls before former President Donald Trump took a photo in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church holding an upside-down Bible.
The fencing surrounding the White House compound recently was replaced by an approximately 13-foot tall fence with wider and stronger posts, according to the National Park Service. It also incorporates anti-climb and intrusion detection technology and is designed to mitigate current and future security threats. Visitors once again are able to walk right up to the grounds of the White House.
At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the expansive security zone around the U.S. Capitol also is being reduced. The outer fence that was installed in the days immediately following the insurrection, which cut off a huge swath of Capitol Hill from its surrounding residential and commercial neighborhoods, was removed in March. The closer in perimeter fence, which Republicans charged was only being kept in place by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a signal that GOP lawmakers are dangerous, is scheduled to be removed with days.