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WASHINGTON: Closed to the public and ringed by metal fencing for nearly a year, the park in front of the White House reopened Monday in the latest sign Washington was returning to normal after the tense Trump years.

Lafayette Square is a typically peaceful patch of green featuring statues of Revolutionary War heroes. Tourists flock to the park to take photographs, and locals would escape their offices to gather on the benches for lunch.

But last June, clashes erupted there between police and people protesting racial injustice after a Minneapolis officer killed the unarmed African-Americanman George Floyd.

After the unrest led to Donald Trump briefly taking refuge in a White House basement bunker, the then-president was accused of ordering a forced evacuation of the square so that he could walk across the space to a nearby church for a photo op.

US Park Police and National Guard troops deployed tear gas and flash bangs to clear the area of largely peaceful protesters. Authorities then erected a metal barrier around Lafayette Square.

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