CNN observed crews taking down metal fencing that had been around the perimeter of the White House complex for months. Not all of the fencing was removed and most of the area remains closed to the public.
The fencing, which was reinforced with concrete barriers, was put in place on January 13, a week after the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, which resulted in enhanced security at the White House and US Naval Observatory, where the vice president resides. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, were killed when Trump supporters stormed and breached the US Capitol on January 6.
The removal of the fencing comes days after Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff moved out of Blair House, which is across the street from the White House, and into their official Naval Observatory residence. Harris’ move out of Blair House was delayed due to renovations at the Naval Observatory residence.
A wide perimeter of fencing was first installed following protests outside the White House after the death of George Floyd in June. Floyd died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck, which sparked protests against police brutality and racism in the US across the nation.
The perimeter was established after federal law enforcement used force to clear protesters from Lafayette Square outside the White House. Then-President Donald Trump visited nearby St. John’s Church in the moments following that incident, and much of the area has been closed ever since.
The fencing perimeter that spanned multiple blocks on 17th Street NW has been fully removed, CNN has observed, and a smaller perimeter of fencing remains at the intersection of 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, where staff and press access the White House. That fencing is reinforced by concrete barricades.
The fencing on H Street near St. John’s Church and the top of Lafayette Square remained up as of Wednesday afternoon. Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Square Park also remain closed to pedestrians. It’s not clear whether Pennsylvania Avenue will reopen to pedestrians in the immediate future.
A spokesperson for the US Secret Service said they would not discuss details related to the fencing due to security concerns.
“The U.S. Secret Service’s dynamic mission requires that we continually assess security requirements. Use of personnel, technology, and physical barriers to maintain operational security may be event driven. Due to the need to maintain operational security, we do not discuss the exact type or location of security fencing or other operational requirements,” the spokesperson told CNN.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in February the Secret Service would be taking the lead on when the fencing would come down.
“Our goal, the President and the vice president’s goal, is for the Secret Service to adjust the perimeter as soon as it makes sense from an overall security standpoint,” Psaki said. “So, we’re working closely with them on that and they, of course, would be in the lead on that.”