By Laura Barros
Washington DC, June 9 (efe-epa).- It was erected in a matter of hours, in the heat of the demonstrations that shook the United States following the death of George Floyd, but on Tuesday the fence that President Donald Trump put between himself and the protesters outside the White House has become a symbol against racial violence and for union amid diversity.
Pieces of cloth and paper with calls to respect life, to reject racism, to promote equality and to stamp out white supremacy cover the fence that kept at bay hundreds of protesters who shouted at Trump for several nights after the death of Floyd at the hands of a white police officer.
The “wall” silently but repeatedly cries out for respect for life, especially for African-Americans.
On Tuesday, many there marked the Texas funeral of Floyd, whose death in the middle of a police operation has reopened deep racial wounds in the country.
“The White House is supposed to be the people’s house and they put barricades up in front of the White House to supposedly protect the president, when black men are being killed out here on the streets and there is no one to protect them,” said Fred Brewington, whose face mask showed the initials “BLM” for Black Lives Matter.
Brewington lamented that Floyd’s family had lost a “black son, a black brother, a black father to this racist system.”
The mood around the fence is sadness, silence and even surprise for those who read the hundreds of messages that now hang on it. Some take the opportunity to photograph themselves, others to make videos.
“I can’t breathe,” “8:46” (the length of time the policeman kept his knee on Floyd’s neck), “Defund the police” and even a Colombian flag with “My grandmother in Colombia is with you,” stand out in a quick tour.
“My skin color is not a crime,” says one sign, while another alerts: “Danger: Aspiring dictator hidden behind this fence.”
Michelle, a young African-American woman who took time to read the messages and photograph some, said the fence made her feel sad.
“I want to cry, it’s horrible. They need to stop this – the killing my brothers and sisters for no reason,” she said.
Anthony Panzera interpreted the messages as “a demonstration of how diverse the United States is.”
He said the writer of each one has expressed themselves in their own way, recalling “Latinos believe that black lives matter” on a small poster, and a few meters further: “Asian-Americans for black lives.”
Allusions to the pandemic or the November presidential elections also stood out, although always against the president.
“COVID-19 is a virus, Trump is a plague,” said one poster, while another promised: “Today we protest, in November we vote.”
But the days of this new protest space may be numbered. Local media have indicated that the National Park Service and the Secret Service are planning to reopen part of Lafayette Square – located in front of the White House and the epicenter of the recent protests – probably from Wednesday morning.
In the place where Trump walked on June 1 after protesters were dispersed so that he could pose for photographers in front of a church, some areas will remain closed for restoration work due to damage and looting during rallies that forced a curfew to be declared in a city now crying out for change. EFE-EPA