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Posts Tagged ‘First Amendment’

THE THEFT OF A HISTORIC SITE FOR FREE EXPRESSION CASTS LIGHT
ON THE VALUE OF PUBLIC SPACE IN A DEMOCRATIC SOCIETY.

 

As part of an ongoing effort to make content more accessible, LAM will be making select stories available to readers in Spanish. For a full list of translated articles, please click here.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SAHAR COSTON-HARDY, AFFILIATE ASLA

TEXT BY THAÏSA WAY, FASLA

FROM THE JULY 2020 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

On June 1, 2020, in a cowardly response by the president to the protests against racially grounded police violence, Lafayette Park and the Ellipse were fenced off around the White House. These two parks, to the north and south of the White House, respectively, form President’s Park and are under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service (NPS). They belong to the public, to us.

Areas of the park have been closed before (and often temporarily for arriving heads of state), but the fences that went up as May became June posed serious incursions into the democratically sacrosanct public realm. The barriers began as low temporary railings over the weekend of May 30 in a frightened reaction to large protests against the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis on May 25 and the killings of so many other black people before him across the nation. As demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter grew in downtown Washington, the buffer around the White House expanded until it had pushed the nearest protests into H Street NW, a two-block remove. Late in the afternoon of June 1, hundreds of peaceful protestors were violently struck with tear gas and sting grenades fired by police to cut a large path for the president’s now infamous walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose for photographs. By Thursday, June 4, as more military vehicles poured into Washington, the fences had been hardened into cage-like walls more than eight feet high around the 82-acre whole of President’s Park. It was a reprehensible seizure of First Amendment space. (more…)

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