Park across from White House reopens after almost a year of being closed

·2 min read

After almost a year of being closed to the public, Lafayette Square, the park north of the White House, quietly reopened to the public on Monday.

The park had been closed since the summer, following the forceful removal of peaceful protesters by law enforcement. Following the park's clearance, former President Donald Trump walked across it from the White House to pose for photographers with a Bible in front of St. John's Church.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump holds up a Bible as he stands in front of St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House during ongoing protests over racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2020.  (Tom Brenner/Reuters)
PHOTO: President Donald Trump holds up a Bible as he stands in front of St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House during ongoing protests over racial inequality in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C., June 1, 2020. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Fencing still surrounds the park, but the entrances have been opened, offering visitors a closer view of the White House.

PHOTO: Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, reopens in a limited capacity in Washington, May 10, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
PHOTO: Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, reopens in a limited capacity in Washington, May 10, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

A group of visitors on Monday told ABC News that they were initially told to leave by an officer who said the park had not reopened, but other officers quickly stepped in to say the square had indeed reopened and that they could stay.

PHOTO: From left, Eliana Lord, Carly Mihovich, Stephanie Justice, and Nick Hansen, visiting from Columbia, S.C., take a photo at Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, after it reopens in a limited capacity in Washington, May 10, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
PHOTO: From left, Eliana Lord, Carly Mihovich, Stephanie Justice, and Nick Hansen, visiting from Columbia, S.C., take a photo at Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, after it reopens in a limited capacity in Washington, May 10, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

There was no formal announcement about the park's reopening.

"In protecting the White House and its residents, the U.S. Secret Service acknowledges that the surrounding area can be a powerful symbol of our nation and our democracy, and the agency is committed to balancing necessary security measures with the importance of public access and view," a Secret Service spokesperson told ABC News in response to a request for comment. "Due to the need to maintain operational security, we do not discuss the specifics of security fencing or other operational means and methods."

ABC News also reached out to the U.S. National Park Service about the reopening, but did not immediately get a response.

PHOTO: Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, reopens in a limited capacity in Washington, May 10, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
PHOTO: Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, reopens in a limited capacity in Washington, May 10, 2021. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

The square has a long history of hosting both small and large demonstrations and protests.

Following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, demonstrators had gathered in Washington and Lafayette Square -- part of nationwide protests.

PHOTO: Police clear the area around Lafayette Park and the White House in Washington, as demonstrators protested the death of George Floyd, June 1, 2020. (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO: Police clear the area around Lafayette Park and the White House in Washington, as demonstrators protested the death of George Floyd, June 1, 2020. (Alex Brandon/AP)

On June 1, law enforcement used chemical irritants and smoke canisters to clear the protesters from the park, making way for the president and his photo-op in front of the nearby church.

PHOTO: A line of police move demonstrators away from St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, June 1, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)
PHOTO: A line of police move demonstrators away from St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, June 1, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

MORE: Trump denies ordering protesters forcibly removed for church photo op

Two days later, the District of Columbia Public Works Department painted the words "Black Lives Matter" in massive yellow on the street near the White House. Over the course of the rest of the summer and into the following year, protesters gathered at what the mayor officially named Black Lives Matter Plaza.

ABC News' Jordyn Phelps, Ben Gittleson, Luke Barr and Dee Carden contributed to this report.

Park across from White House reopens after almost a year of being closed originally appeared on abcnews.go.com