In New Letter, Schumer And Pelosi 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

Leader Schumer And Speaker Pelosi To President Trump: Immediately Reopen Lafayette Square To The Public 

Washington, D.C.—Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 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, Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi 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.

Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi 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.

Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi’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.  

      Sincerely,                                 

NANCY PELOSI                                                       CHARLES E. SCHUMER

Speaker of the House                                                  Democratic Leader    

U.S. House of Representatives                                   U.S. Senate

 

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