Norton questions Secret Service head after group kicked from candlelight vigil grounds

WASHINGTON — Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s delegate to Congress, says she is disappointed that the Secret Service booted a candlelight vigil for children who died from cancer from grounds near the White House over the weekend.

On Monday, Norton, D-D. C., says she spoke with U.S. Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy about the CureFest for Childhood Cancer event, which was forced to stand on the curb for more than three hours as Secret Service agents shut down the area of Lafayette Park, even though the event had a permit to be there.

Secret Service agents kicked out the attendees twice during the event because President Barack Obama was traveling to and from the White House.

Norton says Clancy — who personally apologized to parents for his agency’s response — made no excuses for the incident.

“Clancy told Norton that the Secret Service would engage in an after-action review of the incident and reevaluate its protocols for Lafayette Park,” a release from Norton’s office reads.

Norton says she wanted to meet with Clancy to review any new protocols.

“I think Director Clancy understood that ejecting those children and their parents, who were holding a candlelight vigil to draw attention to the cancer that children are suffering, was inexcusable,” Norton said in the release.  “He knows of my long-time concern with Americans being able to gather in front of the White House.”

Norton says there is balance between rights of the public and the Secret Service’s obligation to protect the president.

“They must ensure there is no opening for compromising the safety of the president and his family, while at the same time bearing in mind that they are operating in a free and open society and must ensure that the public is not banned from public spaces, including the areas in front of the White House and Lafayette Park.”

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Sarah Beth Hensley

Sarah Beth Hensley is the Digital News Director at WTOP. She has worked several different roles since she began with WTOP in 2013 and has contributed to award-winning stories and coverage on the website.

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