White House security tried to keep protesters out with a chain-link fence. They turned it into a memorial for black lives lost
As protests continue in cities all across the United States, and outside the White House itself, a temporary fence put up to surround the perimeter of the presidential residence has been turned into a makeshift memorial wall by protesters, who are using it to honor Black men and women who have died at the hands of police. It’s a stark contrast to the intended purpose of the wall, which is to put a further divide between protesters and the president.
The chain-link fence was put up by White House security to protect the perimeter of the property, even as protests outside have stayed peaceful and police have been the only ones inciting violence at that location. But protesters have taken the fences and made something heart-wrenchingly beautiful out of them. They now hold the names of so many black men and women who have been killed at the hands of police, alongside tributes, poems, stunning art, and “Black Lives Matter” signs.
Journalists and visitors who were at the White House over the weekend reported that hundreds of people have been strolling around the fence, reading the names of those we’ve lost, adding more, taking pictures, and paying somber respect to the people who were killed — many without justice. The perimeter fence is almost completely covered in the crowd-sourced tributes to Black men and women.
Some of the signs also called on voters to remove Donald Trump from office. One particularly poignant sign read, “Today we protest, November we vote.”
The White House memorial wall is particularly powerful because of the way Trump has been criticized for hiding inside the residence while protests persist. During one peaceful protest, the president even turned off the White House lights and retreated into a safety bunker. Later, he had protesters cleared from the street by police with tear gas to allow him to walk to a nearby church to pose for photos. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have widely criticized the president’s response to ongoing unrest.
The new fence around the White House property was put up last week. Speaking to the New York Times, administration officials said the new fence was intended to keep protesters further away from the president, and that it will be removed “in time.”