Tourists Take Over Closed Lincoln Memorial

A family of four helped break through the barricades.

By + More
John McCleve, center, broke through the barricade at the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
John McCleve, center, broke through the barricade at the Lincoln Memorial Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

The yellow caution tape and black barricades didn't stop John McCleve from taking his children to see his favorite president Wednesday.

McCleve, who's visiting Washington D.C. with his family this week from Mesa, Ariz., was roaming the base of the Lincoln Memorial with his two daughters and son around 1:30pm when he spotted a break in one of the barricades. Inspired by the veterans who pushed past the barricades of the World War II Memorial last week, he decided to follow their lead. He opened the barricade a little more and went in.

"Lincoln is my favorite president," McCleve says. "My children hadn't seen him before and I wanted them to see him."

[WATCH: At WWII Memorial, Bachmann Blames Obama's Tweets for Shutdown]

The family of four started climbing up the steps. They were soon joined by tens and then scores of others. Within a few minutes, he estimates, around 100 people were swarming the top of the memorial.

D.C. Park Police arrived shortly after and politely asked the group, now a mix of tourists and a few veterans, to leave. One officer approached McCleve and told him the memorial was closed. "I told him I understood, and I shook hands with him," McCleve says. In less than 10 minutes, police — who declined to comment for this story — cleared the steps and replaced the barrier.

One tourist shouted from behind the gate, "I know y'all are just doing your job, but this is wrong."

McCleve, 44, says he wasn't planning on busting past barricades on his vacation, but it was worth it. "My children will never forget this, and neither will I," he says.

More News:

  • The (Few) Bright Spots of the Government Shutdown
  • Tourism Imperiled as Shutdown Closes Monuments, Parks
  • The Lincoln Memorial and Other Vandalized Monuments