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Fencing around historic St. John's church to come down by end of August

The church, situated near the White House, drew large crowds during police brutality protests and was the scene of a controversial photo op from President Trump.

WASHINGTON — Fencing around St. John's Episcopal Church —  the historic church that drew dozens of protesters during the Black Lives Matter protests near the White House — is expected to come down by the end of August, says Reverend Rob Fisher.

D.C. officials originally put up the fencing during the start of the Black Lives Matter and George Floyd protests as tensions continued to escalate.

The church, which sits at the corner of 16th and H streets NW across from Lafayette Square, drew crowds of protesters for weeks, standing on steps and pushing for the end of police brutality.

Rev. Fisher explained in a June 25 letter to parishioners that church leadership was contacted by D.C. officials about putting up the protective fencing in light of continued protests, which the church agreed to  "after thorough discussion and reluctantly."

RELATED: Updates: Police at St. John's Church Thursday morning after clash with protesters

The church denounced the fencing put up by D.C. officials, but said in the letter they understood the need for extra safety around the building.

"While we hate both the fencing and the boarded-up windows, one of our main responsibilities as rector and wardens is to protect the buildings," it continued. "Our hope is to remove both the fencing and plywood as soon as practicable."

RELATED: Faith leaders at St. John's Church in DC are 'outraged' at Trump's photo op with bible in front of church

On June 22,  DC started to remove housing encampments around the historic church. By June 23, the area in front of the church on 16th Street was cleared of protesters altogether, a move that church officials said they had "no part of."

In the June 25 letter, Reverend Fischer said the church was never given the opportunity to finish executing a plan to safely remove the protesters before police cleared H Street.

"We are looking forward to having the fencing down," Fisher said. "Soon after, the plywood over our stained glass windows will be turned to artwork. The P.A.I.N.T.S. Institute approached us weeks ago to do this, but because of the fencing we waited until now." 

RELATED: As protests continue, fences outside the White House get taller

RELATED: St. John's Church says it played no role in removing protesters from BLM Plaza

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