House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Monday demanded that President Trump reopen Lafayette Square a week after federal police forcibly dispersed peaceful protesters ahead of his surprise photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.
In a letter sent to the President on Monday, Pelosi and Schumer urged the President to “immediately reopen” Lafayette Square to the public. The top congressional Democrats also called out the President for the “deeply offensive action” of using tear gas on protesters to make way for his “regrettable political stunt” in front of the church that same evening.
Citing the steel fencing that walls off the Square, Pelosi and Schumer slammed Trump for converting the park into “what looks like a militarized zone.”
“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,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote.
The top Democrats added that it’s “simply not credible to claim” that the protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death, which have largely been peaceful in the past week, “justify the oppressive walls” the President erected in response.
Pelosi and Schumer’s letter comes a day after Trump announced in a tweet that he has ordered the National Guard to begin withdrawing from Washington, D.C., claiming that “everything is under perfect control.” The President issued his announcement after firing back at D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for her request to withdraw “all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence” from the district.
Shortly before Pelosi and Schumer’s letter was released on Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters during a briefing that there are “no regrets” regarding the forcible removal of peaceful protesters ahead of Trump’s church photo-op last week.
“I’d note that many of those decisions were not made here within the White House. It was (Attorney General) Bill Barr who made the decision to move the perimeter,” McEnany said, before adding that park police “independently” made the same decision on Monday night based on the violence that erupted in Lafayette Square last week.
Read the letter below: