Protesters at Lafayette Square, June 4. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to President Trump Monday asking him to reopen Lafayette Square to the public.

Why it matters: The park became the center of controversy last Monday when federal officers forcibly cleared protesters from the area outside of the White House so that Trump could walk to St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo op. Its various entrances have been blocked off by metal barricades since last week.

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the White House's handling of the incident at a press briefing on Monday, saying that the president has "no regrets" and that Attorney General Bill Barr was the one who directed the park to be cleared.
  • McEnany also said that decisions concerning the security perimeter are "not something that is in White House control" and deferred questions to the Secret Service and the U.S. Park Police.

What they're saying: "Your conversion of this unique public park in the heart of our Nation’s capital to what looks like a militarized zone denies citizens access to the park and sends the worst possible message to the American public and people around the world," the Democratic leaders wrote.

  • "Lafayette Square should be a symbol of freedom and openness, not a place behind which the leader of our Executive Branch cowers in fear of protesters who are crying out for justice."
  • "It is simply not credible to claim that the current protests justify the oppressive walls you have erected in response."

Editor’s note: This post has been corrected to show that the letter was sent to President Trump today (not Friday).

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