Why are So Many People Jumping the White House Fence?

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Tue, Oct 28 - 10:00 am EDT | 4 years ago by
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What would make someone jump over the White House fence? When it comes to the people who have scaled the fence, that’s my main question. But I was also interested in who is hopping over the fence, so I did some research into the five White House fence jumpers (so far) in 2014.

Dominic Adesanya

The most recent fence jumper, 23-year-old Dominic Adesanya hopped the White House Fence on October 22. He made it 20 feet before he was tackled by members of the Secret Service, plus their dogs, who bit his back, arms, chest and knee.

As for why he did it, his behavior in court is probably telling. According to CNN, the records that were released on Monday indicate that “two marshals had to escort the defendant, Dominic Adesanya, out of a U.S. district courtroom after he shouted ‘help me’ and yelled that he was a targeted individual.’” Adesanya was deemed incompetent to stand trial. He’s charged with resisting arrest, felony assault, unlawful entry and making a threat.


Omar Gonzalez

On September 19, 2014, 42-year-old Texan Omar J. Gonzalez not only successfully scaled the White House fence, but he made it inside the White House. With a knife on his person and two hatchets, a machete and 800 rounds of ammo in his nearby car, Gonzalez’s successful fence hop feels a bit more threatening. He overtook a guard, made it through the front door and got fairly far into the White House before being taken down.

Gonzalez had been stopped on August 25, 2014, nearly two months before the incident, walking along the perimeter of the fence with a machete in his waistband. He wasn’t arrested at that time. He was in the army from 1997 to 2003, and again from 2005 to 2012. He retired due to a disability at that time. Gonzalez was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon in addition to breaking two DC laws. He pled not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Some reports indicate mental illness and PTSD may have led Gonzalez to commit the crime. His ex-wife allegedly claimed “that he suffers from mental illness as a result of a ‘terrible’ incident during a tour of duty in Iraq and needs treatment, not jail” and that the incident involved “little children.”

Not to make light of the situation, But Conan’s White House intruder selfie segment was pretty hilarious…


Pikachu in human form

On September 11, 2014, a dude in a Pikachu hat, carrying a Pikachu doll, hopped the White House fence. He didn’t get too far before Secret Service agents apprehended him. I haven’t been able to find any good information on the Pikachu fence hopper, so it’s had to speculate why he decided a jaunt across the White House lawn was worth being tackled at best, shot at worst. Maybe he thinks he’s funny. Or maybe Pokemon told him to do it.

A toddler

On August 7, 2014, the smallest White House fence hopper, errr, crosser, made his way onto the White House lawn when he squeezed through the fence slats. Secret Service agents returned him to his parents without incident. Apparently, toddlers don’t resist being apprehended on the White House lawn like they do at home when it’s bedtime.

“We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him, but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on way with parents,” U.S. Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan said of the incident. At least we can laugh at this one.

Campbell Chatterjea

Richmond, Virginia resident Campbell Chatterjea scaled the White House fence on March 30, 2104. A White House press release states that “[a]fter failing to comply with lawful orders, the subject was subdued by a U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division K-9 unit.” He was taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries. Media reports indicate he was charged with unlawful entry, but despite extensive Googling, I couldn’t find any followup information on what became of Chatterjea, nor could I find out any personal information about him. That makes it hard to guess why he might have hopped the White House fence.

There have been a couple more cases near the White House this year, though not quite fence jumpers. The first was this one, which was rather amusing.

The second was also in May when Matthew Goldstein, a federal employee, joined in line behind a Secret Service motorcade at an outermost security checkpoint. He didn’t quite make it into the White House, but he was authorized to enter the Treasury Department, which is next door.

One interesting note is that from 1997 through 2013, there were only eight White House fence jumpers or intruders. So, why are so many people trying to jump the fence this year? Are people just more daring? Do they want something to brag about on Facebook? Are more citizens unhappy with our President (and government in general)? Or are there a lot more people with mental health issues these days?

So far, Secret Service agents have been able to detain all of the White House fence jumpers with nothing more than minor injuries, mainly courtesy of their K9 partners. But at some point, I’d guess that one of these jumpers who manages to get too close to entering the White House might be shot. That doesn’t seem like a worthwhile risk for anyone in their sound mind. And for those who aren’t in a stable mental place, let’s hope that the secret service agents are able to capture them early and quickly.

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