Cagey
June 5, 2020

In the 72 hours since the Trump administration used tear gas and other nonlethal force to violently clear Lafayette Square of peaceful protesters before President Trump's walk to St. John's Church, "the White House has been transformed into a veritable fortress," The Washington Post reports, with tall security fencing and concrete barriers erected to keep protesters from an expanded secure zone. "Armed guards and sharpshooters and combat troops are omnipresent." According to Google Maps, the new fencing stretches about 1.7 miles around the White House.

"The White House is now so heavily fortified that it resembles the monarchical palaces or authoritarian compounds of regimes in faraway lands — strikingly incongruous with the historic role of the executive mansion," known as "the People's House," the Post adds. "The resulting picture is both jarring and distinctly political — a Rorschach test for one's view of Trump's presidency. His supporters see a projection of absolute strength, a leader controlling the streets to protect his people. His critics see a wannabe dictator and a president hiding from his own citizenry."

"I think the need to fortify your house — and it's not his house; it's our house — shows weakness," said Deborah Berke, dean of the Yale School of Architecture. "The president of the United States should not feel threatened by his or her own citizens."

White House officials tell the Post that Trump wasn't involved in the decisions to ramp up security and put up the new fencing, and they noted he has left the White House twice this week, including the brief St. John's spectacle. "The president has been sensitive to the perception fanned by his critics that he is cowering in a bunker and fearful for his own safety," and he's "livid that the media found out" about him being rushed to the bunker last Friday, the Post reports. This probably won't help dispel that perception. Peter Weber

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