WASHINGTON, DC — A controversial metal fence, which was erected around the White House at the beginning of the month, has since been taken apart. The fence was built on June 1 to cordon off Lafayette Square, presumably to allow Donald Trump a safe passage to stage a photo opportunity in front of the St. John’s Episcopal Church amid citywide anti-racism protests.
Afterward, Black Lives Matter protestors transformed the fence into a messaging board and a spontaneous art show. When the activists discovered that certain sections of the fence had been removed and that it would soon be dismantled, they took what they could and reinstalled it across the street. Believing the memorabilia could be trashed by the contractors, they reinstated it on scaffolding on the other side of Lafayette Square.
When I visited the public artwork, an aspiring graffiti artist and activist named Noah explained to me that he was among those who helped and two of his own signs were hanging among them. He is one of many contributors to the still-growing display, as people continue to bring new signage and posters and hand it at the site. Trees, poles, and electric boxes, as well as the plywood used for boarding up storefronts on 16th Street, are being utilized to post words and graphics in support of the Black Lives Matter.
Last week, a group of curators from the Smithsonian Institute visited the site and agreed to preserve at least some of the memorabilia at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Activists believe the museum acquired a significant portion of what was removed from the fence. Meanwhile, many more pieces are stored away by the activists who currently ran a free food stand across the street, next to the St. John’s Episcopal Church. Eric and Ryan, the two activists who were in charge of the stand at the time, said they did everything they could to salvage the artwork and the signage, which is now on display as a makeshift public art exhibtion.