May 17, 1996


For Immediate Release
Contact: Peter Hong

Giving in to fear is not an acceptable response in a democracy,"
Grams tells Pennsylvania Avenue news conference

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Senator Rod Grams, surrounded by officials of the District of Columbia and representatives of civic, business, and historical organizations, today urged the reopening of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House.

"The very fact that so many wanted to be here today is a powerful reminder of the importance of this historic street to the Washington community," said Grams in a news conference held in Lafayette Park, just across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. "Closing the avenue, one of the District's major arteries, has had a devastating impact. It has tied up traffic, shut out tourists, scared away businesses, and inconvenienced residents. And it was imposed unilaterally, without any consultation with the District or the people who rely upon this road.

"A knee-jerk reaction to fear," is what Grams labeled the closing, carried out by the Treasury Department one year ago on May 20, 1995. "There are barricades to the left of us, barricades to the right of us, and yet directly in the middle sits what is supposed to be one of this nation's most enduring symbols of freedom. Surrounded by concrete, and ringed by armed guards, dogs, and patrol vehicles, a roadway that once resonated with freedom now reeks of fear," said Grams.

"Grams Joins DC Officials, Citizens in Calling for Reopening 'America's Main Street'."

Grams introduced legislation in the Senate this week calling on President Clinton to order the Treasury Department to develop a plan, in conjunction with the Secret Service and the District of Columbia, for Pennsylvania Avenue's permanent reopening. Senator Ted Stevens (R - AK), chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and Senator Charles Robb (D - VA) are cosponsors. Grams' legislation also has the strong support of District of Columbia officials, including Mayor Marion Barry, Council Chairman David A. Clarke, and Councilmembers Frank Smith, Jack Evans, and Charlene Drew Jarvis.

"We've come together -- without regard to party affiliation and without any political agenda -- to ask the President to reverse a decision that has replaced openness with apprehension. In the capital city of a nation built 'of the people, by the people, and for the people,' there can be no room for fear, roadblocks, or barricades:" said Grams.

"It's time to reopen Pennsylvania Avenue, for our visitors, our business community, our commuters, our residents -- for every American who celebrates freedom and believes that giving in to fear is not an acceptable response in a democracy," Grams concluded.

Pennsylvania Ave. Closure || Peace Park