Report: White House Is Now Surrounded By Almost 2 Miles Of Fencing, Barricades
The Washington Post reported Thursday that "the White House has been transformed into a veritable fortress” in the days that followed President Donald Trump’s Monday walk to St. John’s Church for a photo op — ahead of which police forcibly removed peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square.
The Post wrote that “Tall black fencing is going up seemingly by the hour,” and “Armed guards and sharpshooters and combat troops are omnipresent.”
The newspaper also observed that the White House now “resembles the monarchical palaces or authoritarian compounds of regimes in faraway lands,” after having historically “known as the People’s House and celebrated as an accessible symbol of American democracy.”
The Week noted that “the new fencing stretches about 1.7 miles around the White House,” according to Google Maps.
The “resulting picture is both jarring and distinctly political,” The Post wrote, describing it as “a Rorschach test for one’s view of Trump’s presidency.”
His supporters see a projection of absolute strength, a leader controlling the streets to protect his people. His critics see a wannabe dictator and a president hiding from his own citizenry.
Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, described the White House as being barricaded like a military base, telling The Post: “I think the need to fortify your house — and it’s not his house; it’s our house — shows weakness. The president of the United States should not feel threatened by his or her own citizens.”
T.J. Ducklo, a spokesperson for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, offered a similar sentiment, telling The Post in an email: “Firing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets at peaceful demonstrators outside the People’s House doesn’t make anyone safer or Donald Trump seem tougher, and it certainly doesn’t address the systemic racism and inequality that has plagued our country for generations.”
A White House official told the newspaper that the perimeter was expanded with the goal of spreading out protesters so crowds don’t become too large to manage in any one place.
Some new barriers along the east and west perimeters of the White House are still going up, in preparation for tens of thousands of expected demonstrators this weekend, administration officials said. It was unclear who controls this new fencing along the east and west perimeters, though a Park Police spokesman said all the barriers were managed by the Secret Service.
Trump has bristled at criticism that he is hiding in the White House, fearful of the American public.
The president has been sensitive to the perception fanned by his critics that he is cowering in a bunker and fearful for his own safety. Aides said he was livid that the media found out that he had been rushed into a secure underground bunker last Friday night with wife Melania and son Barron after several protesters breached the temporary fences near the Treasury Department grounds adjacent to the White House. He had claimed falsely that he entered the bunker only for “an inspection.”
But on Wednesday, the president appeared proud of the added security guarding him outside the White House, sying during a Fox News Radio interview:
“Washington is in great shape. I jokingly said, a little bit jokingly, maybe, it’s one of the safest places on earth. And we had no problem at all last night. We had substantial dominant force and it — we have to have a dominant force. Maybe it doesn’t sound good to say it, but you have to have a dominant force. We need law and order.”