Border wall prototypes demolished amid clouds of dust
The towering models were a show of Donald Trump’s commitment to border security and making good on a core campaign promise.
A jackhammer turned prototypes of US President Donald Trump’s prized border wall into piles of rubble on Wednesday, a quick ending to an experiment that turned into a spectacle.
The four concrete and four steel panels, spaced closely together steps from an existing barrier separating San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, instantly became powerful symbols associated with the president and one of his top priorities when they went up 16 months ago.
For Mr Trump’s allies, the towering models were a show of his commitment to border security and making good on a core campaign promise.
For detractors, they were monuments to wasted taxpayer dollars and a misguided display of aggression toward Mexico and immigrants seeking a new home in the United States.
Within about two hours, a hydraulic jackhammer on an excavator levelled seven prototypes.
The jackhammer was unable to immediately knock down one panel in what was expected to be a one-day job.
US officials say elements of the prototypes have been melded into current border fence designs and they were no longer needed.
Public access to the prototypes was blocked from the San Diego side, turning an impoverished Tijuana neighbourhood into a popular spot for journalists, anti-wall demonstrators and curious observers.
Artists projected light shows on the walls from Mexico, with one message reading Refugees Welcome Here next to an image of the Statue of Liberty and another showing a silhouette jumping on a trampoline with a caption that read, Use in Case of Wall.
Removal of the prototypes made way to extend a second-layer barrier of steel poles topped by a metal plate rising 30 feet from the ground, the same design being used elsewhere on the border.
The new barrier vaguely resembles some of the steel prototypes but looks nothing like the solid concrete panels, which were widely panned because border agents could not see what was happening on the other side.
The eight prototypes cost between 300,000 dollars (£225,000) to 500,000 dollars (£375,000) each to build.